Tag Archives: CIO

Architects: How Will You Stay Relevant?

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We are way past the point where the architecture needs to be aligned with business goals and value delivery.  That is necessary but no longer sufficient.  We are now at the point where architecture needs to be central to the creation of an organization’s strategy process.  Not to get hyperbolic, but anything less is risky for your career.

The Challenge: Digitization

I just came back from the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) research forum.  One of the leading topics was digitization and how every business is becoming digitized.  To those in the High Tech industry, this may be an “of course” topic, but to most other industries it is a wrenching change.  Even those who are comfortable with the idea of digitization risk taking this too lightly.

The fact is that most products and services will have a digital component to them in the near future and an increasing number of  products and services will be entirely digital.  The fact is that digitization and the technologies that enable it are going to bring about a period of increased disruption.  This will mean:

  • New competitors.  Examples: autonomous cars, sports equipment with embedded sensors that provide feedback, personal assistant fully capable of making decisions and taking action.  Gartner is predicting that almost everything over $100 will have a sensor by the turn of the decade.
  • New competitors jumping across industry boundaries.  Examples: Apple iTunes and Google cars to name a few.

Why Architects Are Important

Architects are in a unique position to not only understand the technology trends driving this disruption, but they also to know how to leverage these trends to drive business value within their organizations.  The very best architects are going to be those who are deeply involved in defining the organization strategy, not just figuring out how to implement it.

Evidence of Change

Many architects and CIOs currently report very little interest from upper management in IT.  That is about to change, and quickly.  At the MIT CISR forum I attended last week, they presented research around this area that is very telling:

  • Half of Board of Directors members believe that their board’s ability to oversee the strategic use of IT is “less than effective.”
  • 26% of Boards hired consultants to evaluate major projects or the IT unit.
  • 60% of Boards want to spend more time on digital issues next year.
  • Board members estimate that 32% of their company’s revenues are under threat from digital disruption.

That last bullet is the really interesting piece of research.  32% is a huge impact.

The Role of Data in Digitization

Digitization by its very nature is all about data.  The winners in this space will be those that can manage and deliver relevant data the quickest.  The question for architects is this: Do you have the architecture and agility to take advantage of the coming disruptions and opportunities?  Are you actively advising your organization on how to leverage them?  As we have documented in many previous blogs, many organizations are poorly positioned to manage their data as a discoverable and easily sharable asset.  This will essential for:

  • Delivering business initiatives and showing value faster (agility).
  • Enabling business self-service so that IT is not the bottleneck in new analyses and decisions.

All of this requires new thinking around enterprise data architecture.  For fresh thinking on this subject see Thinking “Data First” to Drive Business Value.

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Gambling With Your Customer’s Financial Data

CIOs and CFOs both dig data security

Financial dataIn my discussions with CIOs over the last couple of months, I asked them about the importance of a series of topics. All of them placed data security at the top of their IT priority list. Even their CFO counterparts, with whom they do not always see eye to eye, said they were very concerned about the business risk for corporate data. These CFOs said that they touch, as a part of owning business risk, security — especially from hacking. One CFO said that he worried, as well, about the impact of data security for compliance issues, including HIPAA and SOX. Another said this: “The security of data is becoming more and more important. The auditors are going after this. CFOs, for this reason, are really worried about getting hacked. This is a whole new direction, but some of the highly publicized recent hacks have scared a lot of folks and they combined represent to many of us a watershed event.”

Editor of CFO Magazine

According to David W. Owens the editor of CFO Magazine, even if you are using “secure” storage, such as internal drives and private clouds, the access to these areas can be anything but secure. Practically any employee can be carrying around sensitive financial and performance data in his or her pocket, at any time.” Obviously, new forms of data access have created new forms of data risk.

Are some retailers really leaving the keys in the ignition?

If I only hadGiven the like mind set from CIOs and CFOs, I was shocked to learn that some of the recently hacked retailers had been using outdated security software, which may have given hackers easier access company payment data systems. Most amazingly, some retailers had not even encrypted their customer payment data. Because of this, hackers were able to hide on the network for months and steal payment data, as customers continued to use their credit cards at the company’s point of sale locations.

Why weren’t these transactions encrypted or masked? In my 1998 financial information start-up, we encrypted our databases to protect against hacks of our customers’ personal financial data. One answer came from a discussion with a Fortune 100 Insurance CIO. This CIO said “CIO’s/CTO’s/CISO’s struggle with selling the value of these investment because the C Suite is only interested in hearing about investments with a direct impact on business outcomes and benefits”.

Enterprise security drives enterprise brand today

Brand ValueSo how should leaders better argue the business case for security investments? I want to suggest that the value of IT is its “brand promise”. For retailers, in particular, if a past purchase decision creates a perceived personal data security risk, IT becomes a liability to their corporations brand equity and potentially creates a negative impact on future sales. Increasingly how these factors are managed either supports or not the value of a company’s brand.

My message is this: Spend whatever it takes to protect your brand equity; Otherwise a security issue will become a revenue issue.

In sum, this means organizations that want to differentiate themselves and avoid becoming a brand liability need to further invest in their data centric security strategy and of course, encryption. The game is no longer just about securing particular applications. IT organizations need to take a data centric approach to securing customer data and other types of enterprise data. Enterprise level data governance rules needs to be a requirement. A data centric approach can mitigate business risk by helping organizations to understand where sensitive data is and to protect it in motion and at rest. 

Related links

Solutions: Enterprise Level Data Security
The State of Data Centric Security
How Is The CIO Role Starting To Change?
The CFO viewpoint on data
CFOs discuss their technology priorities
Twitter: @MylesSuer

 

 

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The Secret To Being A Successful CIO

The Number 1 Enterprise Priority

CIOInformation Week reported last week upon the latest IT Trends Study. Once again this study had IT-business alignment as the No. 1 priority for enterprises. The article’s author even exclaimed within his piece isn’t this topic becoming “a bit “passé”. We have confirmed in our interviews of CIOs that they place connecting what IT is doing to business strategy higher than things like technical orchestration and overall process excellence. Hunter and Westerman say in The Real Value of IT that doing IT-Business Alignment well involves “showing the value of IT as an investment in business performance—operationally and financially”.

CIOs Need The Businesses Help With IT Demand Management

CIOOne CIO that we talked to suggested that accomplishing what Hunter and Westerman suggest starts with better IT demand management. “IT leaders increasingly need to get control over their IT demand management. After all, they have limited dollars, limited space, and limited people. They need to partner with the business to get the prioritization done”. This CIO suggests it is especially important to get this right these days because of the pace at which the tech landscape is changing.

The explosion of technologies is certainly making the need for IT-business alignment even more critical. This CIO has Mobile, Cloud, Social, and Big Data all key priorities at the same time. How does one select between them without having their customers in the room with you?

Another CIO suggests that IT-business alignment is increasingly about three things:

  1. Getting the CFO to understand technology is not a cost center
  2. Getting the business to understand that IT isn’t separate
  3. Getting business leaders to understand technology better. “I want business leaders to start asking for digital services that support their product and service offerings”.

A New Type Of CIO Needed?

TeamworkClearly, if CFOs are part of the alignment equation, CIOs should be looking at their tech priority list carefully. Some CIOs suggest that the emphasis on IT-business alignment brings to the forefront skills like collaboration and teamwork. And this change may require a different kind of CIO. The CIO role today is clearly becoming more about understanding the business than understanding technology. It is becoming more about business alignment than technology alignment. This means the biggest value added from the CIO still will be that they can align business needs with the technology fabric required to deliver it.

Presentations Need To Be About A Business Need

The Language of BusinessSeveral CIOs, in fact told me that they will not take a vendor presentation on a purely techie topic anymore. If they take a meeting from a vendor, they will almost always involve their business partner. They won’t do it alone. Given this, the topic needs to change. “Business partners will be suspicious of a meeting request filled with technical terms. They do not want a solution looking for a problem. They want to be looking for a solution to their problem”. Given this, to involve the CIO today, you need to have a business value proposition.

Even COBIT 5 Suggests That Alignment Matters

Even COBIT 5 in fact suggests says that IT organizations should be measured by their alignment of IT and business strategy. COBIT 5 even provides multiple KPIs that dig in on the topic. Given this, it may be “a bit “passé” but it is core to creating a successful IT organization for today and for the future.

Related links

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Driving IT Business Alignment: One CIOs Journey

CIO MagazineCIO Magazine says marketing matters to business alignment

In our interviews of CIOs, they have told us that connecting what IT is doing to business strategy has become a higher priority than even things like improving technical orchestration and overall process excellence. Being CIO today has become much more about business alignment than technology alignment. This means that CIOs and their teams need to understand their firm’s business problems almost as well as they understand their implementations of information technology. One area where CIOs say they are trying to do a better job of alignment is in working with their firm’s Chief Marketing Officer. Confirming this is a recent CIO Magazine Survey that found initiatives around revenue, customer acquisition, and customer retention receiving top IT priority these days.

CIOGeiger IT solves a persistent business problem by aligning with the marketing team

One CIO that that has really taken this to heart is the Dale Denham who is the CIO at Geiger. Dale and his IT team decided that they needed to get closer to their firm’s marketing organization and by doing so was able to go after a persistent business problem and change the IT-business relationship in the process.

At Geiger, their marketing team was limited in their ability to add new products. Competitively, the marketing team needed to improve their product selection. However, they were hitting the wall in updating and maintaining their product mix. Geiger provides its customers with more than 5,000 products, each having as many as 350 variations.  This translates to a 175,000 product permutations to price and manage. At the same time, Geiger sells its products through 500 Sales Partners—this, in turn, can create an additional layer of permutation.

The source of this business problem was that Geiger’s ERP and Website systems that required the users to manipulate multiple screens to get to product data and product codes into the system. The system was difficult enough that it took about six weeks to train someone to input product data. Think about the time needed to then do this this across all products, product permutations, and channel partners.

To fix things, Dale and his team partnered with the business. Doing it together rather than separately enabled the IT organization and the business to collaborate and to build a better and more permanent partnership. Dale says, “We have really enjoyed implementing the solution, because the business units are now working very closely with IT”. Dale claims as well the relationship with their business units has gotten to be a very solid, trusting relationship with them, and very collaborative. They have learned to trust IT’s input, and IT has learned a lot from the business units about how they operate and like to operate.”

automationThe impact of working together is clear

The solution that the business and IT derived cut the time to train people in half. In fact, Dale says that new system users are relatively productive within a week, because the solution is faster and easier to use. Dale says that the time per product entry went down from an hour and half to thirty minutes. For this reason, marketing teams are more efficient. Overall, it reduced the process from two months to one week for them to update the customer facing website. By automating the process, they were able to speed up marketing processes. This means marketing can now add and extend to the existing marketing mix and increase customer satisfaction and potential increase customer upsell and cross sell.

The historical the process created a lot of efficiencies for marketing. Marketing staff is now much more focused on what they’re doing from day to day. They have the ability to update products faster from prices and this has stabilized business margins. At the same time, marketing was able to reduce invoice discrepancies. Given all of this, marketing staff is more engaged that they are able to get the job done in a timely manner and to be able to get to market faster with the products.

The solution took the data entry process down from ninety minutes to thirty minutes. And now with this increased efficiency, the marketing staff has focused more of its time on the quality of copy for the product and on getting the graphics of the images up to websites. This has improved overall customer experience. And of course they were able to expand their product offering. They now have three times the throughput capacity, which is what is going to allow Geiger to grow in the future as it provides more product options to customers.

Already they have found that customers are happier with the immediate larger breadth of product to choose from. Lastly, their leadership team is happier because they are able to get more opportunities to grow the business. And this gives them much more ability to satisfy customers and provide for the additional growth they need in the future.

Closing remarks

Clearly business and IT alignment is all the rage today. But it starts and ends with a team that solves meaningful business problems. Geiger is a great of example of how to do this right. If you want to learn more about what Geiger did and how they solved their marketing problems, please click this hyperlink.

Related links

Watch Dale Denham talk about Geiger’s success

How Is The CIO Role Starting To Change?

The CIO Challenged

How CFOs can change the conversation with their CIO?

The CFO viewpoint on data

CFOs discuss their technology priorities

Twitter: @MylesSuer

 

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CFOs Discuss Their Technology Priorities

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a number of CFOs about their technology priorities. These discussions represent an opportunity for CIOs to hear what their most critical stakeholder considers important. The CFOs did not hesitate or need to think much about this question. They said three things make their priority list. They are better financial system reliability, better application integration, and better data security and governance. The top two match well with a recent KPMG study which found the biggest improvement finance executives want to see—cited by 91% of survey respondents—is in the quality of financial and performance insight obtained from the data they produce, followed closely by the finance and accounting organization’s ability to proactively analyze that information before it is stale or out of date”

TrustBetter financial system reliability

CFOs want to know that their systems work and are reliable. They want the data collected from their systems to be analyzed in a timely fashion. Importantly, CFOs say they are worried not only about the timeliness of accounting and financial data. This is because they increasingly need to manage upward with information.  For this reason, they want timely, accurate information produced for financial and business decision makers. Their goal is to drive out better enterprise decision making.

In manufacturing, for example, CFOs say they want data to span from the manufacturing systems to the distribution system. They want to be able to push a button and get a report. These CFOs complain today about the need to manually massage and integrate data from system after system before they get what they and their business decision makers want and need.

IntegrationBetter Application Integration

CFOs really feel the pain of systems not talking to each other. CFOs know firsthand that they have “disparate systems” and that too much manual integration is going on. For them, they see firsthand the difficulties in connecting data from the frontend to backend systems. They personally feel the large number of manual steps required to pull data. They want their consolidation of account information to be less manual and to be more timely. One CFO said that “he wants the integration of the right systems to provide the right information to be done so they have the right information to manage and make decisions at the right time”.

Data Security and Governance

securityCFOs, at the same time, say they have become more worried about data security and governance. Even though CFOs believe that security is the job of the CIO and their CISO, they have an important role to play in data governance. CFOs say they are really worried about getting hacked. One CFO told me that he needs to know that systems are always working properly. Security of data matters today to CFOs for two reasons. First, data has a clear material impact. Just take a look at the out of pocket and revenue losses coming from the breach at Target. Second, CFOs, which were already being audited for technology and system compliance, feel that their audit firms will be obligated to extend what they were doing in security and governance and go as a part of regular compliance audits. One CFO put it this way. “This is a whole new direction for us. Target scared a lot of folks and will be to many respects a watershed event for CFOs”.

Take aways

So the message here is that CFOs prioritize three technology objectives for their CIOs– better IT reliability, better application integration, and improved data security and governance. Each of these represents an opportunity to make the CFOs life easier but more important to enable them to take on a more strategic role. The CFOs, that we talked to, want to become one of the top three decision makers in the enterprise. Fixing these things for CFOs will enable CIOs to build a closer CFO and business relationships.

Related links

Solution Brief: The Intelligent Data Platform

Solution Brief: Secure at Source

Related Blogs

The CFO Viewpoint upon Data

How CFOs can change the conversation with their CIO?

New type of CFO represents a potent CIO ally

Competing on Analytics

The Business Case for Better Data Connectivity

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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Building a Data Foundation for Execution

Building a Data Foundation for Execution

Building a Data Foundation

I have been re-reading Enterprise Architecture as Strategy from the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR).*  One concept that they talk about that jumped out at me was the idea of a “Foundation for Execution.”  Everybody is working to drive new business initiatives, to digitize their businesses, and to thrive in an era of increased technology disruption and competition.  The ideas around a Foundation for Execution in the book are a highly practical and useful framework to deal with these problems.

This got me thinking: What is the biggest bottleneck in the delivery of business value today?  I know I look at things from a data perspective, but data is the biggest bottleneck.  Consider this prediction from Gartner:

“Gartner predicts organizations will spend one-third more on app integration in 2016 than they did in 2013. What’s more, by 2018, more than half the cost of implementing new large systems will be spent on integration. “

When we talk about application integration, we’re talking about moving data, synchronizing data, cleansing, data, transforming data, testing data.  The question for architects and senior management is this: Do you have the Data Foundation for Execution you need to drive the business results you require to compete?  The answer, unfortunately, for most companies is; No.

All too often data management is an add-on to larger application-based projects.  The result is unconnected and non-interoperable islands of data across the organization.  That simply is not going to work in the coming competitive environment.  Here are a couple of quick examples:

  • Many companies are looking to compete on their use of analytics.  That requires collecting, managing, and analyzing data from multiple internal and external sources.
  • Many companies are focusing on a better customer experience to drive their business. This again requires data from many internal sources, plus social, mobile and location-based data to be effective.

When I talk to architects about the business risks of not having a shared data architecture, and common tools and practices for enterprise data management, they “get” the problem.  So why aren’t they addressing it?  The issue is that they find that they are only funded to do the project they are working on and are dealing with very demanding timeframe requirements.  They have no funding or mandate to solve the larger enterprise data management problem, which is getting more complex and brittle with each new un-connected project or initiative that is added to the pile.

Studies such as “The Data Directive” by The Economist show that organizations that actively manage their data are more successful. But, if that is the desired future state, how do you get there?

Changing an organization to look at data as the fuel that drives strategy takes hard work and leadership. It also takes a strong enterprise data architecture vision and strategy.  For fresh thinking on the subject of building a data foundation for execution, see “Think Data-First to Drive Business Value” from Informatica.

* By the way, Informatica is proud to announce that we are now a sponsor of the MIT Center for Information Systems Research.

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The CIO Challenged

The CIO Challenged

future shockIf you ask a CIO today about their challenges, several things would clearly make the list. CIOs that I know personally are feeling a bit of Future Shock. They say that things are changing a lot faster these days than they did in the past. One CIO said to me in exasperation, “things are changing every 18 months”. Given this, I recently sat down with CIOs from several different industries to get their perspectives on how the CIO role is changing and the challenges they feel in their role as CIO. This post will focus upon the latter.

 
 
 

Healthcare CIO

The Healthcare CIOThe healthcare CIO participating said that CIOs need to manage four large mega trends simultaneously—mobile, cloud, social, and big data. At the same time in healthcare, they have the added complexity of Meaning Use, ICT 10, and HL7. For these reasons, this CIO worries about keeping the IT lights on while at the same time helping the business to expand. This CIO sees healthcare is clearly entering an era of ubiquitous computing with the iPad becoming the rounding and vitals instrument of choice. This links mobility, integration, and compliance around a standard like HL7. HL7 provides this CIO with a framework for exchanging, integrating, sharing, and retrieving of electronic health information. Like other CIOs that we talked to, our healthcare CIO says he needs to understand his enterprises business better in order to be a better partner.

 

Insurance CIO

Insurance CIOOur next CIO is from the insurance. He sees CIOs in general being challenged to move from being a builder of stuff to an orchestrator of business services. This CIO sees cloud and loosely oriented partnerships bringing vendor management to the forefront. At the same time, he feels challenged to provide application integration in a service oriented manner. He says that IT organizations need today to orchestrate across IT regardless of device. As well, he believes that IT organizations need to stitch together an IT that is fungible and support service oriented architecture. At the same time, he says that his business users “believe that data is strategic but they need it provided to them in a way that creates predictive capabilities and drives top line revenue”. We and our business customers know that we need to fix our mutual data problems in order to use data better. This CIO said believes that he needs to fix his enterprise’s data hygiene first in order to improve business outcomes.
 

Manufacturing CIO

Manufacturing CIOThe Manufacturing CIO participating said that CIOs have an opportunity to create informative analytics and help the business find value. However, this CIO worries that CEOs and CFOs are about to start complaining to their IT organizations that the information garnered from Big Data and Business Intelligence does not really make them more money. He claims, to make more money, IT organizations need to connect the dots between their transactional systems, BI systems, and the planning systems. More specifically, they need to convert insight into action. To do this, the business needs to be enabled to be more proactive and to cut the time it takes to execute. This means that IT needs to enable the enterprise to generate value different than its competitors. This CIO worries, therefore, about IT’s ability to drive flexibility and agility. We need to respond to the rate of change and be able to prototype faster at the same time as we cut the cost of failure. This CIO claims that CIOs needs to more actively manage the information lifecycle even though the business may own the data. Lastly, this CIO says that IT organizations need to be more forward looking. We need to be looking at things cross discipline. We need to be looking for new business insights. We have piles and piles of data from which to draw interesting insights from. How do you connect and create new business insights?
 

Pharma CIO

Pharma CIO Getting the CFOs to understand that technology is not a cost center was really important to our 4th CIO. We need to get everyone to understand that IT isn’t separate from the business. At the same time, we need to get business leaders to understand technology better. There is a real West Coast vs. East Coast split regarding business technology literacy. We need business leaders to start asking for digital services that support their product and service offerings. And this is all about data. “Think about it. What we do in IT is all about the intake of data, storing data, processing data, and analyzing data. And we need to provide the intelligence to make better decisions.  Competing with analytics is what we need to enable. Like an athlete that needs muscles—data needs cleaning, security, mastering, and governance to enable the business to compete with analytics”.
 

Broadcast CIO

Broadcast CIOOur broadcast CIO is focused on the explosion of Big Data. “I need to get my management team exposed to Big Data Analysis. I need as well to get the resources to do this well”. We need for example to get the business answers to its questions around customer behavior. From an integration perspective, this CIO said that she needs to get service based technology deployed. At the same time, she said I need to be able to have business apps for my business and consumer users to subscribe. This CIO said that speed to clients from integrated systems is a big issue. We need today to connect everything together.

CIOs as whole feel are feeling challenged

CIOs regardless of industry feel challenged. They feel challenged by changes coming at them in general and in industry specific mandates and standards. They clearly need to move faster and to move from organizations that are about getting the internals of IT running well to organizations that can absorb new technology models, scale up and down in “Internet time”, and flex seamlessly to support business model innovation. For more information, see the related links below:

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How Is The CIO Role Starting To Change?

When you talk to CIOs today, you strongly get the feeling that that the CIO role is about to change. One CIO said to me that the CIO is the midst of “a sea state change”. Recently, I got to talk with a half a dozen CIOs on what is most important to their role and how they see the role as a whole changing over the next few years. Their answers were thought provoking and worthy of broader discussion.

business alignmentCIOs need to be skilled at business alignment

CIOs say it is becoming less and less common for the CIO to come up through the technical ranks. One CIO said it used to common for one to become a CIO after being a CTO but this has changed. More and more business people are becoming CIOs. The CIO role today is “more about understanding the business than to understanding technology. It is more about business alignment than technology alignment”. This need for better business alignment led one CIO to say that consulting is a great starting point for a future IT leader. Consulting provides a future IT leader with the following: 1) vertical expertise; 2) technical expertise; and 3) systems integration expertise. Another CIO suggested that the CIO role sometimes is being used these days as a rotational position for a future business leader. “It provides these leaders with technical skills that they will need in their career.” Regardless, it is increasingly clear that business expertise versus technical expertise is much more important.

How will the CIO role change?

changeCIOs, in general, believe that their role will change in the next five years. One CIO insisted that CIOs are going to continue to be incredibly important to their enterprises. However, he said that CIOs have the opportunity to create analytics that guide the business in finding value. For CIOs to do this, they need to connect the dots between transactional systems, BI, and the planning systems. They need to convert data into action. This means they need to enable the business to be proactive and cut the time it takes for them to execute. CIOs need in his view to enable their enterprises to generate differentiated value than competitors.

Another CIO sees the CIOs becoming the orchestrator vs. the builder of business services. This CIO said that “building stuff is now really table stakes”. Cloud and loosely oriented partnerships is bringing vendor management to the forefront. Agreeing with this point of view, a third CIO says that she sees CIOs moving from an IT role into a business role. She went onto say that “CIOs need to understand the business better and be able to partner better with the business. They need to understand the role for IT better and this includes understanding their firm’s business models better”.

A final CIO suggests something even more radical.  He believes that the CIO role will disappear altogether or morph into something new. This CIO claims CIOs have the opportunity to become the chief digital officer or the COO. After all, the CIO is about implementing business processes.

clean dataFor more technical CIOs, this CIO sees them reverting into CTOs but he worries at the same time about the importance of hardware and platform issues with the increasing importance of cloud—this type of role is  going to become less and less relevant. This same CIO says that, in passing, CIOs screwed up a golden opportunity 10 years ago. At this time, CIOs one by one clawed their way to the table and separated themselves from the CFO. However, once they were at the table, they did not change their game. They continued to talk bits and bytes versus business issues. And one by one, they are being returned to the CFO to manage.

Parting Thoughts

So change is inevitable. CIOs need to change their game or be changed by external forces. So let’s start the debate right now. How do you see the CIO role changing? Express your opinion. Let’s see where you and the above CIOs agree and more importantly where you differ?

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Don’t Fire the CIO, Transform the Business

Transform the Business

Transform the Business

The headline on the Venture Beat website this weekend was Why you should fire your CIO. The point of the article was that the rest of the executive suite in most organizations is ignorant about IT issues and has abdicated responsibility to the CIO, or they build their own information solutions without sufficient competence in information management. The article suggests that firing the CIO is one way to pass accountability for information management to the business leaders since there will be no place for them to hide. They simply won’t be able to deflect the decisions to the CIO. (more…)

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Big Data Why?

Business leaders share with Fortune Magazine their view of Big Data

FortuneFortune Magazine recently asked a number of business leaders about what Big Data means to them. These leaders provide three great stories for the meaning of Big Data. Phil McAveety at Starwood Hotels talked about their oldest hotel having a tunnel between the general manager’s office and the front desk. This way the general manager could see and hear new arrivals and greet each like an old friend. Phil sees Big Data as a 21st century version of this tunnel. It enables us to know our guests and send them offers that matter to them. Jamie Miller at GE says Big Data is being about transforming how they service their customers while simplifying the way they run their company. Finally, Ellen Richey at VISA says that big data holds the promise of making new connections between disperse bits of information creating value.

Everyone is doing it but nobody really knows why?

gravityI find all of these definitions interesting, but they are all very different and application specific. This isn’t encouraging. The message from Gartner is even less so. They find that “everyone is doing it but nobody really knows why”. According to Matt Asay, “the gravitational pull of Big Data is now so strong that even people who haven’t a clue as to what it’s all about report that they are running Big Data projects”. Gartner found in their research that 64% of enterprises surveyed say they’re deploying or planning to deploy Big Data projects. The problem is that 56% of those surveyed are struggling trying to determine how to get value out of big data, and 23% of those surveyed are struggling at how to define Big Data. Hopefully, none of the latter are being counted in the 64%. . Regardless, Gartner believes that the number of companies with Big Data projects is only going to increase. The question is how many of projects are just a recast of an existing BI project in order to secure funding or approval. No one will ever know.

Managing the hype phase of Big Data

hypeOne CIO that we talked to worries about this hype phase of Big Data. He says the opportunity is to inform analytics and guiding and finding business value. However, worries whether past IT mistakes will repeat themselves. This CIO believes that IT has gone through three waves. IT has grown from homegrown systems to ERP to Business Intelligence/Big Data. ERP was supposed to solve all the problems of the homegrown solutions but it did not provide anything more than information on transactions. You could not understand what is going on out there with ERP. BI and Big Data is trying to  go after this. However, this CIO worries that CEOs/CFOs will soon start complaining that the information garnered does not make the business more money. He worries that CEOs and CFOs will start effectively singing the Who song, “We won’t get fooled again.”

This CIO believes that to make more money, Big Data needs to connect the dots between transactional systems, BI, and planning systems. It needs to convert data into business value. This means Big Data is not just another silo of data, but needs to be connected and correlated to the rest of your data landscape to make it actionable. To do this, he says it needs to be proactive and cut the time to execution. It needs to enable the enterprise to generate value different than competitors. This, he believes mean that it needs to orchestrate activities so they maximize profit or increase customer satisfaction. You need to get to the point where it is sense and response. Transactional systems, BI, and planning systems need to provide intelligence to allow managers to optimize business processes execution. According to Judith Hurwitz, optimization is about establishing the correlation between streams of information and matching the resulting pattern with defined behaviors such as mitigating a threat or seizing an opportunity.”

Don’t leave your CEO and CFO with a sense of deja vu

dejavuIn sum, Big Data needs to go further in generating enough value to not leave your CEO and CFO with a sense of deja vu. The question is do you agree? Do you personally have a good handle on what Big Data is? And lastly, do you fear a day when the value generated needs to be attested to?

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