4 myths about big data CIOs must understand

Big data is changing the CIO’s role, according to a recent IDC study

There’s a continuing disconnect between IT and the lines of business with regard to analytics. While IT sees itself contributing to and guiding analytics strategy, business leaders are more likely to see IT as a roadblock.

But the nature of analytics is changing, which presents the possibility of a new, unique role for the chief information officer.

A recent IDC study reveals some hard truths, though, that must be understood before the opportunity can be realized. Sponsored by SAS, the IDC study surveyed 578 IT, line-of-business and analytics managers to examine the role that the CIO and the IT group play in supporting analytics programs.


Where's the disconnect with big data? Click image to see full infographic.

Myth No. 1: IT controls all things data
IDC Finding: Analytics is finding a home, but not in IT

The CIO does not hold a monopoly on all things “information.” Instead, analytics organizations are increasingly headed by leadership roles that are separate from IT. But the CIO can – and should – play a role. Better analytics project outcomes are obtained by organizations that have an enterprisewide strategy.

In the survey, IDC asked, “Who in your organization decides which analytics projects receive funding?” Only 15 percent said IT makes those decisions alone. For 40 percent, the business makes them. And 43 percent said IT and business work together to make purchase decisions.

What roles should IT play?

  • Support the creation of analytics projects and work closely with analytics groups.
  • Help define the components of an enterprisewide analytics strategy. 
  • Take an active role in developing your company’s analytics strategy.

Myth No. 2: Technology poses the biggest challenge
IDC Finding: The greatest stumbling blocks are organizational mindset and culture

What’s more important to analytics than the right technologies? Mindset and culture, according to survey respondents. Many organizations move to analytics in response to triggering events, but successful organizations have a stronger, centralized, proactive approach.

What roles should IT play?

  • Become a clearinghouse to share and disseminate best practices.
  • Use the strategy of influencers.
  • Actively encourage data-driven decision making.

Myth No. 3: Everyone understands the value of analytics
IDC Finding: Businesses have trouble articulating the value of analytics

Without a doubt, most organizations believe in the business value of analytics. Indeed, 95 percent of survey respondents have seen business benefits. But few organizations can quantify those benefits. Most lack the discipline and methods to perform pre- and post-project assessments.

What roles should IT play?

  • Develop more consultative skills.
  • Help business leaders and the analytics staff measure and assess outcomes.
  • Tell better analytics success stories.

Myth No. 4: You can’t have analytics without IT
IDC Finding: IT is part of the problem, not the solution

There are disconnects between IT and lines of business regarding the helpfulness of IT with analytics projects. This implies a lack of communication and different interpretations of what should be included in an analytics strategy. To achieve their goals, business teams have turned to “shadow IT” groups dedicated to analytics. These silos create a huge challenge in providing a single version of the truth.

What role should IT play?

  • Focus on providing a single version of the truth.
  • Assist in the information management steps of the analytics life cycle: data integration, data management, data quality and data security.
  • Provide a world-class analytics platform, then know when to step aside.

Bottom line

Big data can help the CIO gain relevance with business leaders, but IT must be willing to partner with the business to add value as a data integrator. Follow the recommendations in this article, and IT will take a leading role in taking the organization down a more analytical path.


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