Affiliated with:

Keith Ellis

Chief Engagement & Growth Officer

International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)

Technology Executive, Start-up Mentor, Board Chair, and Geeky-Researcher

Keith Ellis has been an executive in the technology industry for over 25 years, starting with the industry trend-watcher International Data Corporation (IDC). He has held roles as CEO, COO, board member, investor, or mentor to various technology companies, co-founded and sold a business analysis company as well as being a former Chair of IIBA. As Chief Growth and Engagement Officer for IIBA, he is responsible for leading IIBA’s global growth strategy, including strategic partnerships, corporate and academic programs, chapters, and membership value.

Keith is a recognized voice in the business analysis community, has published and spoken extensively in our field, and, at one point had over 60,000 attendees to his webinars annually. In the business data analytics field, Keith’s team documented how implementation teams focusing on six key BDA practices boost ROI by 300% and reduce failure rate by 2.8 times.  Keith holds an undergraduate business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and MSc in Computer Science from Lancaster University in the UK for his research in business analysis.

What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?

I started my career at the industry trend watcher IDC and all my clients were the huge tech, digital, or service companies like IBM, Andersen, Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, and EDS. I got to talk strategy and understand how these companies built their businesses – it was thrilling.

What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?

My daughter got to see me graduate from Lancaster University in 2011 with an MSc in Computer Science awarded for research I’d done on the impact of business analysis on project outcomes.  I think people are faced with two choices in their career:  being open to the possible or focusing only on the task in front of you. Life isn’t a task, it’s an adventure. 

What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?

There is an education process in what makes for successful outcomes in business data analytics initiatives.  Getting those six things right, on top of the technology and data science is challenging.  The challenge is the cultural shift needed which occurs only after executive teams see success.

How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?

There is an adage that people over-estimate the impact of change in the short term and underestimate the impact long term.  When I look at the real adoption rates of business data analytics technology, I can’t help but compare the market to where we were in the year 2000 with the Internet. At that point, people really didn’t see cloud, SaaS, or the threats to security that would emerge and create vibrant businesses.  Business will be disrupted by business data analytics, and so in the long term I believe we are barely scratching the surface of what it will mean to be a modern data-driven organization and many behemoths will die.

I see one of the bigger challenges in the next 2-3 years being dealing with the supply side problem of people. The successful executive is the one that somehow figures out how to get their team in place when others can’t.

Do you have any planned next steps for your career?

I’m delighting in what I do.  My next step is world domination… one business analyst at a time.

What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far?  Why has it been so important to you?

Focus on the what, not the how.  What are we trying to accomplish, why, the impact needed is far more essential than getting locked into a bad decision on how to do it.  People need to be flexible in their thinking.

Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?

If there’s a golf course out there somewhere, I’d like to be on it.

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