Becoming a data-driven organisation is not an easy task and many C-level executives struggle with it, as developing a Big Data strategy is not only about the required IT; it is more about having the right people and culture in place. The right IT environment is required to perform the analysis, but in the end, Big Data is a people’s question.
As such, a prerequisite for a successful Big Data strategy is a data-driven, information-centric culture. For many organisations, this requires a culture change, where individuals and departments need to work together, co-create and obtain insights from data analytics. This will result in a power shift within the business, moving it away from senior executives with years of experience to those employees that have access to data. Unfortunately, this culture change is a lot more difficult to achieve than building the required technology for a Big Data strategy and to succeed, it requires a new role of the CIO.
Many business leaders still mistrust the insights from data analytics in their decision-making. Instead, they prefer making decisions based on gut feeling. In a data-driven organisation, however, this can no longer be the case. Data should be the basis for decision-making and it is the role of the CIO to create this environment that offers easy access to analytics and insights for all employees. It is the responsibility of the CIO to develop a big data analytics platform that provides employees with real-time insights from a wide variety of data sources.
Combining and analysing different, internal and external, data sources is referred to as Mixed Data. This requires a different strategy that the siloed approach that is common within organisations. Data tends to be kept in silos throughout organisations, which results in missed insights as, data cannot be combined easily in real-time due to incomparability and departments refusing to collaborate. However, when data is centralised and accessible for everyone, based on different roles, it stimulates collaboration and knowledge present within the organization becomes visible to everyone.
Therefore, a big data strategy should focus on bringing together a variety of internal and external data sources, and it is the job of the CIO to enable such an approach. To achieve this, individuals and departments should work together, share their data and co-create to take the organisation to the next level, which positively affects the company culture.
360 Degrees Customer Profiles
Such a data-driven, information-centric culture becomes relevant when, for example, you want to develop 360 degrees customer profiles. In order to achieve detailed customer insights, a mixed data approach is needed. The marketing department has the objective to truly get to know the customer and deliver personalized, relevant messages/products/service to the right customer at the right moment. It requires real-time insights from a wide variety of data sources, ideally through an easy-to-use big data analytics platform, which should be provided by the CIO.
This will bring the role of the CIO to the next level. No longer can the CIO operate alone, but he or she should work closely together with other executives. In the case of creating detailed customer insights, the CIO should closely collaborate with the CMO to understand the needs of the marketing department and build an analytics platform that is actually useful for marketers.
There are ample examples available in the market that such an approach pays off. One of the best examples is Walmart, who built @Walmartlabs. This enables Walmart to build solutions, such as the social genome where dozens of data sources and millions of records are combined for insight, which marketers use to deliver the right message to the right customers at the right moment in time. This was only possible due to close collaboration between marketing and IT.
Therefore, the CIO should be taking an active role in developing a Big Data strategy, by centralising and bringing together different data sources, establishing the IT department as a trusted advisor while building the foundation to support analytics within the organisation as well as collaborating with other executives to understand their needs. As such Big Data creates a new, unique role for the CIO that will contribute directly to organizational success and thereby takes it to the next level. As such Big Data creates a new, unique role for the CIO that will contribute directly to the success of the organisation.