Big Data Means 5 Big Problems For CIOs

by drjim on May 21, 2014

With more data comes more problems for CIOs…

With more data comes more problems for CIOs…
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If you pick up just about any IT magazine these days, you’ll see that everyone seems to have decided that we are now living in the age of “big data”. No data set is too large to be processed by your IT department. The rest of the company now understands the importance of information technology and they believe that all you have to do is drop the data in and magically actionable information should pop out that the entire company can start to use today.

Well, as with all things in life, it’s never quite that easy. Those of us who have the CIO job are starting to learn that along with big data comes some very large problems that they are going to have to find a way to solve. Let’s spend a moment and talk about 5 of these “big” problems…

5 Big Data Problems That CIOs Need To Solve

The one thing that no CIO want’s to have happen is for his or her IT department to get involved in a big data project that ends up delivering nothing. The reason that this can happen to a big data project is that a company makes a mistake and the end result is that the project gets scrapped. Here are 5 common big data project mistakes and how to avoid making them:

  • Garbage In…: Just having a lot of data is not enough to have a successful big data project. The company has to have a very clear idea of what questions they are trying to have answered before the big data project gets started. The mistake that too many companies make is that they believe that just by processing the data, answers will magically show up. It doesn’t work this way – you have to know what you are looking for before the project starts.
  • Not Enough Of The Right People: It turns out that performing complex analysis of big data sets is actually hard work. It takes a special kind of person with a unique set of skills. Right now there are not a lot of these people out there. If your IT department does not have the right people, then you’ll never be successful. Now is the time to identify the people who have the right skill sets. Have them get additional training and make sure that they are ready when your next big data project starts.
  • Organization Counts: Just exactly where is all of the data that you are going to want to process? All too often companies have things like customer data spread across multiple databases. This means that the big data project is going to have to spend time looking for different pieces of data in different locations even before the main analysis starts. Take the time to pull together all of the data that you are going to need into a single database so that you can focus your department’s time and energy on what really counts.
  • Fight!: Everyone in the company knows the importance of big data and everyone wants to be the first to get their hands on the results of the project. If as CIO you allow this to happen, internal departments are going to be spending their time fighting with each other. As the senior IT person, you need to set the tone from the top – the data belongs to the company and the results belong to the company, no department has preference over any other department.
  • Setting The Bar Too High: It can be too easy to create a big data project that has really big goals. When you do this, the possibility of the project failing or ending up under delivering is boosted. Don’t make this mistake. Instead, start out by setting a smaller objective and keep your goals narrow. What will happen is that this smaller project will be a success. You can then build on it and go on to create larger projects that will have a much better chance of being successful.

What All Of This Means For You

We have entered an age where all of a sudden CIOs are discovering that their IT departments are no long limited by the amount of computing power that their budget can purchase. With the arrival of cloud computing, an almost unlimited amount of processing power is now available to process the enormous amount of data that every company is collecting.

What this means is that in order to be able to deliver to the company what they are expecting to get out of their big data, if you are sitting in the CIO position then you are going to have to first solve some big data related problems. These include making sure that they have the right data to process, finding the right IT staff to do the work, organizing the data, resolving differences between data owners, and making sure that the IT department does not over promise.

Yes, great things can come from finally having the computing horsepower needed to process enormous amounts of data. However, before you can deliver to the company the useful results that they are looking for, you are first going to have to solve the big problems that come along with your big data.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Who do you think should own the “big data” that your company has collected?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I like clouds, you like clouds, everyone likes clouds. CIOs everywhere are getting inundated with cloud requests, cloud proposals, and cloud projects. However, committing your company’s IT assets to the cloud is a big deal considering the importance of information technology to the company. This sure seems like the kind of thing that you don’t want to just rush into. What kind of important questions should a CIO be asking now before you make the commitment to the cloud?

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