Big data, data mining, data analytics, it is all about data and handled correctly data becomes information. But who is responsible and has the means to turn data into information? It isn’t the CEO, CMO or CFO, it is the CIO, the IT Manager.
The CIO is actually the custodian of the data which is being collected from a variety of sources and in a number of formats – CRM, landing pages, accounts – and the reality is data is accumulating at a rate not previously experienced.
In its native form, the data collected probably only makes sense to those directly using it via the system storing it, so it exists in a silo. The value of the data in its native form can’t be accurately assessed and it is only when mined, analysed, reported and shared that it truly becomes an asset to the organisation. This also requires a shift in the perception it is “my data” to it is “our data” to be used across the organisation, centralising the data mining and analysis is one way of achieving this. It will, of course, require tact and diplomacy and being able to produce relevant and current information will consolidate the strategy.
In 2005, Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis in their book “The New CIO Leader”, see the CIO as “the most senior executive responsible for identifying information and technology needs and then delivering services to meet those needs”. Delivering the services includes providing the infrastructure, the applications and the resulting information.
We often see and hear about the information economy, where information is the primary raw material and a source of value. Information, current and relevant, is now an essential component of every business strategy.
We have also been told it is the “Age of the Customer”, where the customer experience can make or break a business and where customers now have an unprecedented voice. So much of the data collected by an organisation relates to the customer. Using the data to then gauge the customer experience is a powerful and valuable task.
ICT is key to transforming the structured and unstructured data into useful information. They must use their initiative and be innovative in how the data is managed and manipulated and align it with the business strategy and goals. It is the CIO who needs to look beyond the traditional past practices, beyond the infrastructure and actively consider what can be produced from the technology under their control.
It is still necessary to manage the technology efficiently ensuring it is relevant to the business operations and staff know how to effectively use what is available. These days much of the infrastructure runs itself with many processes totally automated and with a myriad of operational checks and balances. It is now possible to focus on strategy and not only teaching the users of the technology about the functionality but what they can extract from the technology.
The CIO with their knowledge and skills are in the ideal position to facilitate the necessary change in how IT is perceived. To change the view it is all just hardware to being integral in achieving business success.
In the current business climate, information management is not the management of ICT but management of information and interpretation of facts to justify the investment in technology and bring about a definite return on investment.
Analysed and interpreted effectively information then becomes knowledge and with knowledge there is power.