Data volumes are growing at an annual rate of 60%, but the buzz about big data misses the reality that as the volume of data explodes, it becomes harder, not easier, for employees to make sense of it. Almost two-thirds of employees now lack the skills and judgment to exploit information. In addition, the growth of new information sources and data types makes accessing data harder and creates difficulties in presenting data in ways that improve decision making. Paradoxically, as organizations amass more data, and spend more on analytic tools, they face a growing insight deficit. If the deficit is not overcome, greater access to information and analytic tools may do more harm than good.
As CIOs take on broader roles in promoting digitization efforts, they should create a role that focuses on the data component of digitization. This role is typically a C-level role, called Chief Data Officer, and reports into another c-level executive like the CIO, CFO, or COO. Instead of being responsible for all aspects of data (e.g., quality, governance, technology), many CDOs are taking on an evangelist role to help business leaders see “the art of the possible” and arrive at a consensus on which data to invest in. The CDO might initially lead some of these big data initiatives, but they are most valuable as a data and insight consultant to the business.
Many organizations have a data strategy and roadmap, but few are able to make significant progress against their objectives as they struggle to appropriately scope and effectively communicate how data investments deliver business outcomes. Successful organizations match data assets to a set of prioritized business capabilities and create a targeted investment strategy. Enterprise Architecture teams also take lead in identifying requirements that can be met through foundational investments such as master data management.
Leading organizations follow three principles to create urgency around information management initiatives and secure stakeholder support:
• Communicate the business-relevance of information by showing how specific data subject areas enable business capabilities.
• Develop foundational capabilities by carefully filtering projects to identify needs that can best be met through a foundational investment, such as master data management.
• Approach information management from the viewpoint of the knowledge worker by engaging frontline employees as well as business leaders to understand their use cases.
Transitioning to a product-oriented IT organization requires a shift in IT teams' mindset–from a focus on technologies to a focus on business outcomes. Employees must think in terms of supply and demand for a service or product rather than of a process or a set of technologies. They need to communicate effectively with multiple stakeholders to influence product outcomes and focus on meeting business objectives. IT team members need to understand and anticipate the needs of IT's customers to build products and services that drive business outcomes.