Big Data Means Big Headaches For CIOs

Too much data is enough to make any CIO's head hurt
Too much data is enough to make any CIO’s head hurt

Image Credit

One of the things that makes having the CIO job different today from how it was in the past, besides the growing awareness of the importance of information technology, is the arrival of so-called “big data”. We’re talking about terabytes or even petabytes of data and all of the headaches that come along with it. As CIO, figuring out what to do with all of this data is your job, but since nobody has ever had to do this before, just exactly what should you be doing?

The Problem With Big Data

With big data comes big headaches. With all of the pressure that is being placed on modern CIOs to be more innovative, you would think that having more data would provide them with the raw material with which to discover the innovations that the company is looking for. However, that is not always the case.

It can be very easy for a CIO to get caught up in the mechanics of big data. Dealing with the issues that surround getting the actual data or solving problems regarding where and how you are going to store it can easily take up a lot of a CIO’s time. However, what you really should be doing is working with the rest of the IT department in order to find ways to turn all of that data into business insights as fast as the market will let you.

How to get the most value out of your store of big data is the question that the rest of the company will be looking to the CIO to answer. One way is to implement IT tools that will allow you to create the analytical analysis of your data that will provide the rest of the company with a competitive advantage. The real motivation for doing this is that it’s something that your competition won’t be able to copy or duplicate.

Making this happen is not going to be easy. What CIOs are actually being asked to do is to participate in business optimization. Over at the IT research company Gartner, they are predicting that 85% of all Fortune 500 firms will fail to effectively exploit big data for competitive advantage through 2015.

Say Hello To Big Data’s 3 V’s

Given that there are so many different challenges to harnessing the power of big data, what is the right thing for a CIO to do? The first thing that you need to do is to realize just exactly how best to define big data. In the IT industry, many define big data according to “the Three V’s”: volume, variety, and velocity.

When it comes to dealing with the volume issues that big data brings to the table, CIOs need to understand that we’re no long going to be talking about gigabytes. Instead the conversation is going to be shifting to talking about terabytes or petabytes of data. As the CIO you are going to have to create solutions to deal with storage and processing issues.

The variety of the data that big data consists of is one of the reasons that any big data processing issue is a challenge. Traditional relational database management systems (RDBMS) use structured data that can be stored in an SQL database. All too often, big data looks nothing like this: it may be clickstreams, blogs, text documents, SMS messages, social information, etc. Your big data solution is going to have to accept data as it arrives without knowing what format it’s going to be showing up in.

Finally, in the world of big data, everything moves faster even though there is more of it. What this means for you is that your IT department is going to have to create ways to both collect big data in real time, but then also produce the results of your analysis of that data in real time also. Not all of your reports need to be produced in real time; however, they will all have to be created much faster than traditional Business Intelligence (BI) reports are. The key is that with big data, you can never be too fast!

What All Of This Means For You

There’s nothing that you can do about it: big data has arrived and it’s not going anywhere. This means that since you are in the CIO position, you need to come up with a plan to deal with it.

Understanding that the big data by itself is not of much value to anyone is the first step. What the company really wants is the results of the analytics that can be performed on the data. Not only do they want these results, but they also want them as quickly as possible. This is why CIOs now need to face and deal with the 3 V’s of big data: volume, variety, and velocity.

The good news about big data is that this may be the disruptive change that CIOs have been looking for. Creating solutions that transform mountains of data into actionable intelligence just might the thing that will make the rest of the company finally realize just how valuable the IT department really is!

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

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to determine exactly how quickly the rest of the company needs to have analytical results delivered to them?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

By now I hope that we’re all aware that Big Data has arrived in everyone’s IT department. As CIOs struggle to determine how best store this tsunami of data, they are facing an even bigger question that begs to be answered: how are they going to manage the data in a way that will allow them to extract the knowledge that the rest of the company is asking them for in a way that will allow them to show the importance of information technology?