How to use big data to build better business partnerships

ey cio blog illustration - umbrellaWhat will big data and analytics achieve for your business? If you don’t ask, you won’t know.

The contradiction inherent in the big data revolution is that, while it depends on sophisticated new technologies and tools in order to collect, store and process information, the technical capability isn’t the real point. Rather, the value of big data lies in the actionable insights generated from it – and the business-wide benefits these insights can generate.

This is a crucial principle for CIOs as they ponder how to help their businesses drive value from data and analytics. Only by partnering much more closely with other business functions will IT be able to identify the diverse range of opportunities that are there to be exploited.

To put it another way, IT should not look to serve up analytics tools to grateful business functions that pick from the menu of choices they are offered. Instead, the aim should be to work closely with these functions to identify what might be possible and how it can be achieved.

Many CIOs are already becoming much more business-centric. But big data and analytics technologies will accelerate that trend. Think of partnerships between IT and the business that function with the following objectives:

  • Identifying the questions to ask. CIOs cannot be expected to anticipate all of the opportunities that data might bring to every part of the business. But by building partnerships with business functions, it will be easier to identify opportunities – and then to prioritize the workload. Data and analytics offer a huge range of benefits, from better infrastructure performance and cost efficiencies to greater sales revenues. But individual business functions will have a much better idea of what they can, and should, aim to achieve.
  • Establishing new ways of working. An enterprise-wide approach to big data recognizes that every business function has something to gain from these tools. Working with these functions – through centers of excellence, for example – IT can operate as the linchpin of the move to data-driven decision-making. Some of those partnerships may even be external, as organizations seek new sources of data.
  • Building a culture of data. A silo approach to data, in which business functions act autonomously and fail to share insights, will not deliver maximum value. By working in partnership with the business, IT can help to embed a data culture that spreads throughout the organization.
  • Demonstrating results. Executives will inevitably want to see results from their investments in data and analytics. But the metrics for measuring performance and the criteria for judging success will vary according to business function. Identifying the right ways to judge impact will require close working partnerships.
  • Confronting risk. Data and analytics technologies bring risk as well as opportunity, in areas such as data privacy and security, for example. Only by working closely with functions such as legal and compliance will CIOs be able to identify the potential problem areas and begin to think about safety measures.

So, that all said, how much of a partner do you believe you are to the business? And how do you think your peers in other functions would answer that question of you?

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