The concept of the “Chief Information Officer” (CIO) title has been well-established for many years. And although the role the CIO plays has slowly evolved in alignment with (and sometimes in reaction to) changes in the world of technology, dramatic shifts in the perception of the creation, use, and employment of information have somewhat skewed the direction that the CIO role has taken.
In the past, the main focus of information management was subsidiary to the execution of “business as usual,” typically framed within the development framework for applications that implement operational or transaction business processes. Here, the data acquired, created, modified, and used was solely intended to guarantee the proper completion of the process.
This allowed siloed business functions to develop the same or similar data models, interfaces, and functionality. In this context, the CIO’s main focus was system infrastructure – ensuring that the system (including processing engines, storage, and networking) was configured to meet business needs.
Trends and drivers for information infrastructure
However, organizations began to recognize that data sets (previously presumed to be byproducts of the operational environments) actually held significant value. When those data sets were collected and combined for reporting or analysis, their repurposing introduced new demands – and uncover new constraints – in the information infrastructure. There are a number of trends that are worth noting:
- Technology adaptation: Innovative technologies can disrupt the presumed information infrastructure needs, such as the explosive use of smart handheld mobile devices, which both generate and consume information. Some industries are particularly sensitive to technical changes, such as the energy industry’s adoption of new smart meters that generate exponentially more data than before.
- Big data and big data analytics: This trend only confirms the need, as more organizations seek to absorb larger volumes of data sets from varied sources and of varied structure.
- Integrated predictive analytics: The time gap for exploiting information is rapidly closing as organizations focus on competitiveness. Many organizations are tightly coupling their analytics engines to their operational systems to inform decision-making in real time.
- Management of auditable compliance: Whether one examines the result of the recent financial credit crisis, deregulation of industries, new laws enacted governing health care reform, or numerous other legislative initiatives, the implication is that demonstrating compliance with regulations requires access to historical data.
- Data governance: Increased reuse and repurposing of information, coupled with the expanded scope of information management, has highlighted the gaps in which the absence of defined and enforced data policies can impede the business. Operational data governance requires retooling the environment to enable inspection, monitoring, and reporting of data policy compliance.
Any one of these trends would imply the need for sound information management practices. However, the nexus of all the trends creates the impetus to institute the proper information management policies and infrastructure to capture, filter, and analyze data and turn it into knowledge that drives positive business results.
In the next post, we will examine the objectives for information management within a typical organization.