Who owns new capabilities in your organization?

I recently participated in SharePoint Saturday – Charlotte where I talked to many people about Power BI and how it could fit in, within their own organization.

I heard the refrain, “No one really owns BI in our organization.” many times along the way. I found this concerning. Many organizations have product owners but not organizational capability owners. This makes sense from a budgeting and management perspective, but it prevents the organization from leveraging the true value of their technology investment. I hear the same refrain when I talk about Yammer or Teams. If there’s no internal advocate for a capability, how will an organization ever adopt it successfully?

“No one really owns BI in our organization.”

Heard at SharePoint Saturday – Charlotte

Tool-Centric isn’t the way

Tool-centric management focus can lead to disappointing internal adoption of a tool. Support teams aren’t typically responsible for driving adoption of a tool but rather, ensure the tool is working. An internal advocate must be present to understand and drive the organizational change process, which assumes the company has both the appetite and investment resources to make the behavior change.

I see great sums of money spent on licensing, but short shrift given to funding the necessary work of upgrading the organization. If you take a “build it and they will come” approach, many will never make the trip. It takes work and passion to figure out how to utilize a tool to make your day to day work better and most people don’t have the time or bandwidth to do this work.

New technologies will require new approaches

As we see new capabilities like Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, and Collaborative Intelligence come into the mainstream, these capabilities are usually comprised of several tools. They also require effort to augment these capabilities into the day to day workflow. As such, the old technology product centric model isn’t going to work in this new changing world. It’s time to rethink the approach now.

“If there’s no internal advocate for a capability, how will an organization ever adopt it successfully?”

This is beginning to happen at Microsoft as well. One Microsoft is an overarching message around capabilities. The Microsoft’s Inner Loop-Outer Loop model comprises many tools for a few key scenarios. I’m hopeful that this is Microsoft’s first step toward communicating what they can do from a capability rather than a product perspective. For example, as a partner and a customer, I’d rather hear a consolidated message around better decision making than several separate Power BI/Cortana Analytics/Azure product pitches where I must figure out the “happy path” for myself. Let’s hope this trend continues.

Organizations need capability advocates for areas like Business Intelligence, Portfolio Management, Team Work, and many others. This role is necessary for thought leadership on where to invest in new technologies and how best to leverage these technologies to provide new capabilities or streamline existing efforts. Without this advocacy, it will be difficult to realize full value from your technology investment. The days of one tool to one capability are long in the rear-view mirror.