Are You Ready For Big Data?

CIOs need to understand what they are going to do with big data
CIOs need to understand what they are going to do with big data
Image Credit: Merrill College of Journalism Press Releases

All CIOs have heard about big data by now: the Tsunami of data that is washing over every company and the struggle that they have to collect it, store it, and then process it in order to create actionable information. As a CIO, when we think about big data we are faced with a number of questions having to do with the importance of information technology that we have not had to deal with in the past. Is this going to require a new architecture? Will new platforms be required? These are all questions that we are going to have to be able to answer, but first we need to make sure that we understand the questions.

The Challenge Is What To Do With The Data

Changes like “big data” often don’t happen all by themselves. In fact, at the same time that the big data revolution is going on we are also having to deal with the arrival of the “internet of things”. These two changes are actually closely related. The internet of things is one of the things that is causing CIOs to start to think about their need to be able to move big data. In the past, big data was simply too big. There was no economical way for any CIO to get all of that data to live in the same place so that it could be processed. However, with the arrival of the cloud, things have now changed. Just getting all of your data to live in once place is an important first step. However, it is just that – a first step. Now you have to determine what you want to do with it.

One of the challenges that CIOs are currently being faced with is that just having a collection of big data is not enough. This won’t create value for you. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If the person with the CIO job can find a way to find correlations in the data using techniques such as machine learning then all of sudden you can do things like predictive learning. The challenge is that a lot of the people in the CIO position are unprepared for this to happen. What they are not doing is building the next generation of applications that are going to be required in order to deal with big data. Instead, they are continuing to focus on building application where they have the most domain expertise.

One of the greatest benefits that CIOs will get from the new era of big data is the ability to predict the future. In order to make this happen, CIOs are going to need to have data scientists optimize their systems so that machine learning can happen. These data scientists are going to have to have some level of domain expertise so that they can be intelligent as they apply their skills to a given industry. CIOs need to understand that every industry will end up having it’s own set of unique quirks.

Next Steps For CIOs

The arrival of big data opens the door to a number of new opportunities for CIOs while at the same time creating a host of new challenges for them. One of the biggest challenges that is currently facing CIOs is that there simply are not enough qualified data scientists who know how to deal with big data. Currently what seems to be happening is that small groups of a dozen or so of these data scientists are banding together and creating small companies to offer their services. Often times these companies get purchased by larger companies only to have the data scientists then leave. The purchasing company is then left holding the bag.

So what do CIOs really want? What CIOs wish existed was a few large machine learning companies. If these companies existed, then CIOs would know who to do business with simply because there is such a high demand for the services that they can offer. What CIOs need to understand is that not all industries are created the same. In certain industries, more progress has been made in dealing with the challenge of big data. Right now the experts agree the industrial sector is very focused on big data. The reason that it has captured their attention is the they have a good understanding of just how valuable the information that big data can provide them with could be.

Another industry that has a real potential to be impacted by big data is the health care industry. Using correlations of collected health information, predictions can be made. In the world of hospitals, big data can be used to tie different systems together in order to follow patients and identify trends and make diagnoses. One of the biggest areas that will be impacted by big data will be applications. These will be the applications that will take in machine operational data and then start to make predictions about when the machine is going to fail. Once a company knows when a machine is getting close to failing, they can start to have a discussion with the manufacturer about having the machine repaired. Instead of having to wait for customers to call them to report machines that have stopped working, manufactures can now call their customers and tell them that it is time to have a part replaced before it fails.

What All Of This Means For You

The times they are a changing. For CIOs, the arrival of big data has now presented them with a number of questions that are going to need answers. We’ll need to determine if we need to make architecture or system changes in order to deal with all of the data that we are going to want to be processing.

What’s interesting about the IT field is that major changes like big data never seem to arrive by themselves. This time around, big data has arrived at the same time as the internet of things. What this means is that CIOs will have a great deal of data to manage. Now they just need to figure out what to do with all of this data. All too often CIOs continue to focus on building application where they have the most domain expertise. If CIOs are able to master the data that they now have access to, then they will gain the ability to predict the future. A major challenge that CIOs are facing as they attempt to deal with big data is that there simply are not enough qualified data scientists who know how to deal with big data. CIOs need to build the next generation of applications that will be able to apply machine learning in order to process the big data that they now have. Different industries are at different stages of the ability to process big data. One of the biggest values that big data is going to be able to provide is the ability to predict when a component is going to fail.

Big data has arrived and CIOs are going to have to get used to it. One of the big challenges will be to get all of this data to live in the same place; however, once that has been accomplished, then the bigger challenge will be to process it and be able to extract useful information from it. CIOs who are able to accomplish this will have gained the ability to see into the future and who knows what that will allow them to accomplish.

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

Question For You: What will be the best way for CIOs to attract data scientists to their team in order to help them process their big data?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As CIOs we are faced with a complete set of problems that we need to solve. These can be small, simple problems that we can solve just by thinking about them for a moment and then telling someone what to do in order to solve them or they can be the really big problems that we have no clue how to go about solving. It’s these big problems that can cause a CIO real headaches. It turns out that that in order to solve the really big problems, CIOs need to use a different way of thinking about problem solving in order to come up with solutions that will really work for them.