What’s The Relevance Of Data For Global CIOs?

I recently had the opportunity to travel the globe, meeting with CIOs in Brazil, South Africa and Hong Kong. During my meetings, we had the opportunity to discuss the relevance of data within their organizations and a strong thread emerged.

First stop, Brazil – While in Brazil, I was able to meet with senior. IT people from multiple industries who were all very receptive to meeting with me. I was hesitant at first given that I work for a software vendor. I found this experience to be different from the US, where CIOs tend to be more skeptical of anyone associated with a vendor.

I found that there was a high degree of interest in becoming information driven. For example, a telecom provider I met with had the understanding that at one level, the products they provide are at parity with the competition. The realization they came to was that they would need to use data to create unique and differentiated products – quickly to remain competitive. The net result would be to use data to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

My takeaways from Brazil? A mature IT market with a strong desire to push the IT envelope.

Second stop, South Africa – The highlight of my trip to South Africa was an event hosted for 15-20 CIOs. I shared with them much of the content I’d written in my recent blog posts, as well as content from future blogs.

These CIOs were thirsty for information around building a data integration platform and eager to meet with me. In this region, it’s rare for executives from vendors to visit them. They had a strong desire to understand what it meant to be information driven, and wanted to follow-up for even more information.

My takeaways from South Africa? This is a market with strong desire to move their IT capability to the next level.

Third stop, Hong Kong – Along with Singapore, the most mature IT market I’ve visited in Asia. Given this is the hub for many Asian businesses; several multinationals make their headquarters there. This was the most diverse group I met.

One of the more unique conversations I had with these CIOs was about separating BI from being data-driven, and discussing the need for a data integration platform. The good news is, this conversation took just a few minutes. Although we recognized that BI is important, BI is unsuccessful without a strong data integration platform and the fact that BI is only one of many “use cases” for a data integration platform. Clarity came when discussing data integration for operational needs, such as master data, M&A and synchronizing data. Again, the interest was high.

My takeaways from Hong Kong? There is a strong desire to compete on information and they want ‘the recipe’ to succeed.

So, what was the strong thread that emerged? Most all of the CIOs I met agree that they need to compete using data going forward. This would be their ticket to creating a sustainable competitive advantage. The biggest question from all of them was where to start. Stay tuned to my future blogs for some guidance.

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