How CIOs Spur Enterprise Growth


Ben Kerschberg, Contributor

February 13, 2015

As IT and business strategies converge, CIOs find themselves at the center of a paradigm shift. They can no longer succeed simply by making an organization’s IT operations run smoothly. Rather, they must adapt quickly in order to meet short- and long-term strategic corporate goals. This is not just pressure to deliver business value, which is already high. Rather, CIOs must also deliver top line revenue. According to Gartner: “Being agile, responsive and efficient in decision-making, development and rollout, while looking to non-traditional services for new revenue opportunities and growth, is vital.” Survey Analysis: Telecom CIOs Are Harvesting Existing Assets and Hunting for Digital Services in 2015 (Gartner June 3, 2014). The opportunity to take a leadership role is especially ripe when corporate risk managers believe incorrectly that big data and analytics deployments are too expensive and ill-suited to the enterprise.

Forward-looking CIOs must establish IT platform architectures that are flexible, scalable, and enable nimble business solutions. They must harvest existing and hunt for new sources of actionable intelligence that lie within big data. Predictive analytics can reveal such intelligence in both existing and new data streams. The resulting empirical, data-driven decision-making is vital to marketing, sales, supply chain management, risk management, and finance, among other corporate competencies.

In a Gartner survey of 88 CIOs, each was asked what their goals were for linking their organization’s business processes to IT. Their responses were (in order of rank):

  1.     Helping to gain a clearer understanding of business strategies and priorities (21%);
  2.     Helping to identify which initiatives and projects to focus on (19%);
  3.     Helping to build more collaborative relationships with business executives (17%);
  4.     Helping to establish a clear linkage between business and IT strategy (16%);
  5.     Providing a common language for business and IT leaders to communicate (12%);
  6.     Providing a way of identifying opportunities for IT innovation (11%); and
  7.     Enabling their enterprise to develop a better business architecture practice (4%).

See EA Practitioners Must Focus on Outcome-Oriented Deliverables (Gartner Dec. 5, 2014).

The language used in the survey was telling: understanding (#1), collaborative relationships (#2), clear linkage (#4), and common language (#5). All of these speak to joint efforts. The seven combined indicate a clear desire to speak to business lines, which depends largely on analytics to gain insights into (sometimes overwhelming) data stores. This indicates that CIOs are emphasizing the importance of harvesting existing sets of assets by applying analytics. They are also being challenged by senior business executives to mine the so-called Internet of Things (“IoT”)—untold amounts of data being transferred between machines (M2M) worldwide. Embedded sensors are a perfect example. (Already, enterprises are only analyzing 0.5% of their unstructured data–i.e. data that doesn’t fit in traditional databases–which is miniscule compared to the data produced by the IoT.)

The means to a CIO’s business-motivated ends is big data coupled with analytics. This entails applying rules and algorithms to data sets in order to extract actionable intelligence in real time. By 2017, over 50% of analytics implementations will make use of event data streams generated from embedded sensors in machines; applications; and/or individuals. SeePredicts 2014: Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Remain CIO’s Top Technology Priority, at 1 (Nov. 25, 2014). When asked how data-driven business capabilities should be developed, more than 60% of CIOs stated that it should be developed with business and other corporate stakeholders.See supra, Telecom CIOs, note 1 (survey analysis).

In order for CIOs to deliver value-added IT services that enable the entire business to grow and transform, they need to integrate their business and IT strategic planning. Internally, IT must partner with the business lines within their organizations, including DevOps. IT must also become a trusted ally and advisor with overlapping responsibilities for business functions.

In this respect, the office of the CIO must understand its full strategic value to the company. It is not merely churning and analyzing big data. Rather, it is solving business problems. One way to envision this is with IT as a central hub that collaborates with many spokes, providing internal Knowledge-as-a-Service to each. The CIO can thereby becomes the glue or transformational agent to align and institutionalize both technology and business processes to drive corporate growth.

This article was written by Ben Kerschberg from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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