Information Technology Strategy: Class 5 & 6 – Metrics


Monday and Wednesday, Professor Stephen Haag came in and lectured on Metrics. One of the promises of IT is the ability to know where your business is. The trick is measure what is measurable (as crazy as that sounds), essential to the business and most importantly compare yourself to your competition and not just your internal benchmarks. One of the quotes he showed at the beginning of the presentation was a quote by Professor David J. Hand.

Many people are resistant to the notion that numerical data can convey the beauty of the real world.  They feel somehow converting things to numbers strips away the magic.  In fact, they could not be more wrong.  Numbers have the potential to allow us to perceive that beauty, that magic, more clearly and more deeply to appreciate it more fully.  Admittedly, ambiguity may be removed by couching things in numerical form.

Haag then moved on to talk about the differences between effectiveness and efficiency. When I think of these two concepts I think of Zappos for effectiveness; 4 hour customer service call!!! (video below) and Walmart for efficiency. The major points around both concepts are listed below.


  • Questions the correctness of the process
  • Measures the output of the process
  • Focuses on the synergistic nature of the entire process
  • Generally, “external” customer-centric focus
  • Realization horizon is longer


  • Assumes the process is correct
  • Measures the internal workings of the process
  • Focuses on each step in the process
  • Generally, “internal” organizational focus
  • Realization horizon is shorter

He then discussed how metrics help eliminate many of the communication issues between business and IT by focusing on the numbers. Metrics don’t guarantee alignment between groups as to what they perceive as important but it does help shed light as to what the other group believes to be important. And yes: it’s all important.

Haag then reviewed the discipline of business intelligence and the nature of metrics.

  • Codification
  • Internal and external
  • Focus on supporting decisions
  • Across all organizational levels

The ultimate goal is predictive metrics . . .

Lastly, Professor Haag mentioned one of my favorite books that I haven’t read called Freakonomics. Yes. It’s on the list. It was an honor to have Professor Haag come in an lecture in my class.  I sent an email out to my students later highlighting some of the better metrics tools I’ve found.

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