How Big Data Will Take the Role of the CIO to the Next Level

September 7, 2014
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ImageBecoming a data-driven organisation is not an easy task. Developing a Big Data strategy is not all about the required IT, but also about the culture within an organisation. The required IT for a Big Data strategy is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

ImageBecoming a data-driven organisation is not an easy task. Developing a Big Data strategy is not all about the required IT, but also about the culture within an organisation. The required IT for a Big Data strategy is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The IT should be supportive in developing that strategy as the right IT environment is required to perform the analytics, but in the end Big Data is a people’s question. And, perhaps, surprisingly, there is an important role in this for the CIO.

 

A prerequisite for a successful Big Data strategy is a data-driven, information-centric culture. However, shockingly, 1 in 3 business leaders do not trust the information they use in the decision-making. They are making decisions based on gut feeling. This is the contrary as is required in a data-driven organisation. Data should be at the basis of decision-making and it is the role of the CIO to ensure the right environment to provide easy access to analytics and insights. It is the job of the CIO to develop the right analytics platform for the organisation that enables the different departments to get access to insights without any problems and in real-time. This will help in achieving the required cultural change as well as give managers less reason to mistrust information.

Combining and analysing different, internal and external, data sources is another prerequisite for a winning Big Data strategy. As I have written before, I’d like to call this Mixed Data. Data tends to be kept in silos throughout the organisation, so if you focus on only one part of the company, you will miss some valuable insights.Data that resides in silos across the organization is useless for two reasons:

  • It cannot be combined easily in real-time with other data sets;
  • It is difficult to reach and does not give the organization a holistic overview of what sort of data is available within the organization.

Internal and external data sources therefore need to be combined and this requires a holistic approach. When all data is centralized, and accessible for everyone, based on different roles, the knowledge present within an organization becomes visible to everyone. This can significantly benefit your company. It is therefore important to break down the different silos and start combining different data sets in a centralized location. In such a scenario, individuals and departments cannot act alone anymore. They are required to work together, share their data and co-create to take the organisation to the next level. The CIO can have a valuable contribution in achieving this.

A great example of the above is if you want to develop 360 degrees views of your customers. This requires all sorts of data, internal and external. When you start combining transactional data with social data, mobile data and all customer touch points within your organisation, you are generating a true 360-degrees customer profile.

The result is data-driven customer-centric marketing that has the objective to truly get to know the customer and deliver a personalized, relevant message/product/service to that customer. However, this is only possible when the right analytics platform is in place and when the different departments are working together to create and deliver the right data.

There are ample examples available in the market that such an approach pays off. One of the best examples is Walmart, who have built @Walmartlabs that builds solutions such as the social genome where dozens of data sources and millions of records are combined for insight. Talented CIO’s should strive to also create such an environment as Walmart has done.

In a 2013 research by SAS, they found that the CIO should be taking an active role in developing a Big Data strategy, establishing the IT department as a trusted advisor while building the foundation to support analytics within the organisation. If the CIO can present a single version of the truth by centralizing and bringing together different data sources, it will enable a data-driven culture. According to the research, the CIO should coordinate Big Data activities and share best practices from within, and potentially also from outside, the organisation. As such Big Data is creating a new, unique role for the CIO that will contribute directly to organizational success and thereby taking it to the next level.

 

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. I am a regular blogger on the topic of Big Data and how organizations should develop a Big Data Strategy. If you wish to read more on these topics, then please click ‘Follow’ or connect with me via Twitter or Facebook.

You might also be interested in my book: Think Bigger – Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business.

This article originally appeared on Datafloq.