IDC believes that the Digital Universe will grow by 44 times in the period 2009-2020. What this means is that there is an information explosion in the digital world. The size of the available data is becoming so huge that storing and processing data in an economically viable manner is a big challenge i.e. ‘Big Data’.
In my opinion big data is not a fad. Enterprises will be forced to embrace big data, if they are already not on the bandwagon to survive. The insights provided by analyzing this vast amount of data offer a plethora of opportunities for enterprises. However, enterprises should evaluate the key objectives and priorities and decide on how it wants to use big data.
If big data is so powerful, why aren’t enterprises doing enough with it? What needs to be done in order to unleash its power?
Big data is a potent force. But, like all other great forces, there are challenges in harnessing this power as well. I think an enterprise will have to have answers in the 3 areas below, before they can begin to harness the power of big data.
First, handling big data requires the use of new technology and non-traditional approaches. Organizations need to figure out fitment of these new technologies with enterprise data. To harness the potential of big data, enterprise leaders will need to be able to appreciate the potential of big data and how it can be applied, silos will have to be broken, managers will have to be mandated to use data and analytics for decision making and so on. This is a massive organizational change management exercise that will have to be driven from the very top.
Second, by making data available to everyone, one opens up issues around data privacy, data security, Intellectual Property and liability. A lot of the data will reside outside organization boundaries and hence rules have to be defined for ownership, usage and remuneration for usage of this data.
The third factor is competition. Industries with fierce competition and low margins will see more rapid adoption than industries where inertia will not kill them; for instance, public services and the government.
Should the responsibility of big data be with the CIO and how should it be executed?
Big data is a business initiative because it directly influences the levers that affect the company’s top-line and the bottom-line. Hence, I think the CEO should directly sponsor the big data initiative. However, the power of “Big Data” can only be harnessed by leveraging the right technology. Hence, the CIO should be given the responsibility of executing the program.
It is a tough job, given the various conflicts of interests of the various stakeholders. For a successful execution, the CIO should not start on a big data program because it is technologically fashionable. It should start with defining the high level objectives in collaboration with the concerned business stakeholders. A technology roadmap should then be defined, with concrete and measurable objectives, and those that give the highest ROI.
What do you think about adoption and the ownership of big data investments’? Do write in with your comments.