Every company is evolving into a technology company as digital data continues to surround us – often in massive amounts with potential that is hidden or too complex to reach.
Luckily, many innovations are presenting CIOs with a set of instruments that can help them pave new ways of doing business. Cloud computing, hyperconnectivity, in-memory computing, and smart sensors – they are all bringing data-driven insight and action to center stage.
In light of these developments, data, without question, is becoming the golden asset for companies. CIOs need to shape their technology road maps proactively to gain a competitive edge for their companies. When IT becomes an integral part of the company’s value-creation process, many CIOs experience pressure because they often lack the competencies and experience in this new leadership domain.
Today, it is key to derive optimum value from your data and extract insights for new customer offerings and incremental revenue streams. With the right leadership skills, CIOs can elevate their game and make information technology a strategic driver for business success.
Act As a Visionary Data Alchemist: From Raw Information to Smart Data
In addition to the four traditional CIO roles of technology advisor, IT service provider, business partner, and security chief, companies may consider adopting new roles with their CIO, C-suite, or lines of business executives: visionary, entrepreneur, data alchemist, and digital transformer.
By embracing the role of a data alchemist, CIOs can build organizational capabilities to evolve huge amount of raw data into smart data and smart processes. In turn, this approach yields knowledge and actionable insights for the business.
Imagine that your company has terabytes of accurate geospatial weather data available. Now, suppose you had an elastic cloud platform in place to create detailed, real-time results around actual weather risks, historical climate data, and the probability of future weather risks. Could this information bring value to other industries – possibly to the point that you could monetize it?
Insurance and reinsurance companies, the public sector, or the agricultural industry could benefit from smart consumption of this data in a variety of ways, including:
- Observation. Analysis of satellite data contributes to forecasting the status of climate health of our planet. The predictive application of the biomass and vegetation index can help improve yield production, contributing greatly to food security in a world facing rapid population growth. That information also provides a deeper understanding of weather patterns and climate change that can help optimize the harvest of energy sources such as wind and solar; illustrate water consumption dynamics over past decades; or forecast how the aeronautical and sea industry may change in the future.
- Diagnostics. Interpretation of the data and surrounding circumstances can help analyze, for example, ice melting in Greenland or Antarctica to quantify rising sea levels year over year. By supporting findings on the needed long-term investments in low-lying areas around the world and informing mitigation efforts, your data can help indicate the need for higher dikes along coastlines. For example, the European Space Agency (ESA) is analyzing the data and information from Europe’s Copernicus program with SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
- Prediction. The creation of reasonable or even valid assumptions out of your data allows the assessment of risks based on historical and up-to-date information. You can better predict future scenarios, their probability, and potential actions to take. Farmers will not only know about upcoming storms, but also how to optimize water and fertilizer use on their fields based on satellite information. Even better, the farmer can detect any imminent onset of the most common crop diseases and start a preventive treatment immediately.
- Decision support. Programmed enterprise systems can drive intelligent recommendations and business decisions. As information systems begin to react autonomously and self-optimize, management-by-exception approaches are enabled. For example, in the case of a calamity, the systems can alert rescue teams automatically and help ensure supplies for evacuated people arrive on time and in appropriate quantities.
Data Management Is Essential
The prerequisite for everything described above is a foundational enterprise data that is clean, semantically correct, current, trustworthy, and consistent across systems. But more important, it must be delivered in a way that enables the business to generate fast, accurate results every time. These data requirements should be made with simple and easy processes by using a high level of automation that is scalable and ensures reliability and speed.
CIOs must consider how to manage the multitenancy of Big Data environments, how to deal with data sets gathered from multiple sources, and how to establish data origin and ownership. With all this in mind, data management becomes an emerging new business capability with the vision of consistent master-data creation and maintenance processes, improved tools and systems, and best practices for data organization and governance.
Data and the CIO
Data alone is not knowledge. However, with several breakthrough technologies arriving in the mainstream, more companies can extend their own insight-as-a-service offerings. In general, smart data initiatives offer significant opportunities for companies to develop a more thorough and insightful understanding of their business. Through enhanced productivity, more efficient processes, a stronger competitive position, and greater innovation, your business can significantly influence its bottom line and overall data strategy.
The CIO has a key role to play, and strengthening the collaboration with other stakeholders in the C-suite and lines of business is crucial. With strong internal and external partnerships, CIOs can create a winning digital strategy for the whole company – a strategy where data-driven insight and action are true, smart assets.
For more insight on the value of information, see Data Wrangling And Democratization: CIOs Should Facilitate The Discovery Of Data.
Carsten Linz is business development officer at SAP SE.