Making Big Data Work for CIOs

February 20, 2015

By: Prat Moghe

Last week I participated on a Big Data panel at the CIO Executive Leadership Summit held in Boston. It was a remarkably intimate affair with 100+ IT leaders. The audience and the panel made three interesting observations.

  1. Driven by the cloud, the CIO role is transforming into a service broker role. CIOs that embrace rather than resist this trend will win. Contrary to the perception of some, the broker role is very strategic thanks to the cloud’s tremendous complexity and variability. It is not mere vendor management; it requires carefully understanding the strategy and needs of business and customers, and designing capabilities to meet those needs.
     
  2. Big Data should be simple. It is not about the technology. It is about getting closer to your customers as Bob Zurek from Epsilon convincingly argued. This point gets overshadowed at times by the frenetic development of interesting new tools and technologies. Customer-centric big data naturally pulls CIOs and line of business leaders together into a partnership-oriented context. Thus Big Data will become a CXO-level bridge to the business that helps the CIO role break out of the organizational silo that sometimes holds it back.
     
  3. If you are a CIO, don’t hire data scientists. Hire entrepreneurs. If your mission is to drive agility with big data, you need forward thinking, action oriented entrepreneurs who can get it done. They will figure out how and when to hire data scientists to support them. The mission is not better data science. The mission is to figure out how to deliver on a business goal using the right technological capability. By the way, entrepreneurs exist everywhere, not just in startups. Find the people with an entrepreneurial mindset.

The CIO role demands a miracle worker – someone who can run the trains on time, keep infrastructure safe, AND innovate for business. Perhaps Big Data is the glue that brings it all together.

Image courtesy of HMG Strategy, LLC.

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