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May 22, 2015

CIOs on the Hot Seat to Deliver with Big Data

The secret about big data analytics is out, and having a big data strategy is quickly becoming a requirement in the corporate suite. While it’s fashionable for business leaders outside of the IT department to initiate and even lead big data initiatives, when push comes to shove, executives look to chief information officers (CIOs) to deliver amid the data deluge.

It can be tough to describe the potential impact of big data. On the one hand, big data analytics can subvert entire markets, as evidenced by the emergence of Uber and Airbnb in the transportation and hospitality industries, respectively. While it may not be a “new technology” per se, big data analytics is the key enabler that makes new business models work.

But big data isn’t just for startups with clean slates and little to no baggage–it’s also going to change the business models of existing companies, both big and small. According to Gartner‘s Doug Laney, up to 80 percent of business processes and products will be reinvented, digitized, or eliminated by big data over the next five years.

“With operational processes quickly becoming digitalized, traditional analog and manual processes will be automated, including both physical and human elements,” Laney wrote in a February Forbes column. “Many, if not most, decisions will be algorithmic, based on automated judgment.”

While the ever-expanding explosion of bits and bytes fuels this transformation, a new crop of software vendors are lining up to help organizations harness the data and win in the new data-driven economy. The analyst firm Wikibon pegs big data to be a $60-billion market by 2020. Meanwhile, investments in data collection and analysis increased by 21 percent from July 2013 to 2014, and the pace is accelerating, according to a recent survey by Software AG.

So where does that leave the CIO? It’s not exactly clear. The old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” comes to mind. The fact that the average CIO tenure is only three years also weighs heavily. There’s no doubt that some CIOs will find big data-driven change difficult to absorb CIOs, especially the ones who view IT (computers, servers, storage arrays, network, software and the like) as a cost center, or a cost to be managed with a minimum of muss and fuss.

Big data will work best for CIOs who view it a strategic profit center: Big data analytics may not be something that delivers an immediate payoff, but instead is a necessary change that will contribute to the organization’s successful and strategic positioning in the new data-driven economy. That difference in mindset, by itself, will keep the dirt fresh in the CIO graveyard.

So how can CIOs keep big data analysis paralysis at bay, and move the ball forward? Lucidworks, a provider of search engine software that’s instrumental in big data understanding, has been noodling the problem and came up with some general pointers. It all comes down to being proactive, having a strategy, and going after it, as opposed to passively waiting for things to happen.

There’s no doubt that CIOs are on the hot seat. Indeed, about nine in 10 CIOs believe that their role is both becoming more challenging and more important to the business, according to Lucidworks’ infographic. While the chief data officer (CDO) is rising, the CIO is responsible for making big data projects work at Fortune 1000 companies today. For more info, check out “The Woes of the CIO” below.



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Wikibon Analyst Kelly: Big Data is Entrenched

Warning: ‘Big Data Paralysis’ Ahead