Revising the CIO’s data playbook

Cios data playbookStart by adopting a fresh mind-set, grooming the right talent, and piloting new tools to ride the next wave of innovation.
 

Like pioneers exploring a new territory, a few enterprises are making discoveries by exploring Big Data. The terrain is complex and far less structured than the data CIOs are accustomed to. And it is growing by exabytes each year. But it is also getting easier and less expensive to explore and analyze, in part because software tools built to take advantage of cloud computing infrastructures are now available. Our advice to CIOs: You don’t need to rush, but do begin to acquire the necessary mind-set, skill set, and tool kit.

These are still the early days. The prime directive for any CIO is to deliver value to the business through technology. One way to do that is to integrate new technologies in moderation, with a focus on the long-term opportunities they may yield. Leading CIOs pride themselves on waiting until a technology has proven value before they adopt it. Fair enough.

However, CIOs who ignore the Big Data trends described in the first two articles risk being marginalized in the C-suite. As they did with earlier technologies, including traditional business intelligence, business unit executives are ready to seize the Big Data opportunity and make it their own.

This will be good for their units and their careers, but it would be better for the organization as a whole if someone—the CIO is the natural person—drove a single, central, cross-enterprise Big Data initiative.

With this in mind, PwC encourages CIOs to take these steps:

  • Start to add the discipline and skill set for Big Data to your organizations; the people for this may or may not come from existing staff.
  • Set up sandboxes (which you can rent or buy) to experiment with Big Data technologies.
  • Understand the open-source nature of the tools and how to manage risk.

Enterprises have the opportunity to analyze more kinds of data more cheaply than ever before. It is also important to remember that Big Data tools did not originate with vendors that were simply trying to create new markets. The tools sprung from a real need among the enterprises that first confronted the scalability and cost challenges of Big Data— challenges that are now felt more broadly. These pioneers also discovered the need for a wider variety of talent than IT has typically recruited.


Enterprises have the opportunity to analyze more kinds of data more cheaply than ever before. It is also important to remember that Big Data tools did not originate with vendors that were simply trying to create new markets.