Expertspeak: How Data Can Help Realize Your Business’ Potential
Moving data to the cloud is something more and more businesses are aiming to do, as it makes great business sense, but it is not a simple process. Data, often vast in scale, is an underutilized resource that enterprises are tasked with leveraging so that it can be better put to use. This requires CIOs to develop detailed, technical plans to manage the shift from relatively antiquated data management systems to updated ones, which allow seamless communication, and reduced manual maintenance.
CIOs and experts, working on upgrading their organization’s systems for the cloud, share their thoughts about data access, how to handle data sovereignty, and other aspects related to data. One thing they all have in common was the desire to acquire real-time insights from vast amounts of data.
Making data real in everyday functioning
Gerard Spans, CIO at Acardis, the 128 year-old Amsterdam-based infrastructure design consultancy
We create awareness around flooding with virtual reality, so a property manager can experience what it’s like if your property is under so many meters of water. We had an event in Amsterdam where we showed on iconic buildings what it means if sea levels are rising. What does ‘under sea level’ look like? We give that information to decision-makers and they are hopefully more proactive. First you make them aware – before you get into a whole lot of analytics.
Takeaway: Data can provide knowledge to key decision-makers to help make informed decisions.
Know about data gravity, and ensure data accessibility to all so they ask the bigger questions
Catherine Kendall, CIO at California Department of Conservation
“We have a century’s worth of data, and it is complex data on California that is an essential component of our science-based regulatory program for oil and gas. We’re really challenged because about 60% of our data is on paper. Imagine how many trends are captured in that paper. That’s one of our biggest challenges right now. There are insights in that data that are just screaming to get out. The platform that we’re subscribing to from Oracle is able to give us answers to a question that we wouldn’t have even dreamed about asking, because it was just too much data reconciliation. We don’t have to think in terms of ‘Better not ask that, because we don’t have the capacity.’ Now it’s about, ‘Imagine the possibilities.
“Disaster preparedness requires advanced information that’s easy to digest, such as push notifications and visualizations. With machine learning, we’ll be able to start to evaluate risk factors: This looks like it is coming, we need to start getting this information out now.”[/right_imag]
Tom Morgan, Oracle Apps DBA Manager at Darling Ingredients, a sustainable bio-nutrient producer
“The ability to stream real-time data from the production line into our financial and forecasting systems is an untapped resource. When we start pulling this information into our supply chain, the benefits will be enormous.”
Takeaway: As data grows in magnitude and complexity, the need for its integration with multiple applications, and the need for its analysis and accessibility to all stakeholders at the right time are critical. This also allows for preparedness.
Making transformation relevant to employees
Lisa Major, VP of Business Transformation at ARRIS, an entertainment and communications technology outfit
“I see an opportunity to transform the company’s IT function into a strategic business partner that’s driving actionable customer insights. Communicating the importance of everyone’s role and where they’ll fit in is critical from the outset. I recommend making transformation relevant by explaining IT’s evolving role, providing examples of progress, and showcasing new opportunities. Clearly communicate how teams will benefit from the new system.
“Talking to finance teams dealing with multiple ERP systems, we saw how painful it was. We said, ‘We’re going to automate those journal entries; we’re going to shave three days off your close cycle.’ Those are things we are confident we can deliver. And that’s how we’ve been trying to message this transformation: Make it meaningful to everybody and don’t talk in corporate speak.”
Takeaway: Chalk out the benefits and challenges employees may face, and upgrade their roles in the process.
Don’t be rigid about data
Steven Chang, CIO at Kingold Group, a real estate developer in Guangzhou, China
Culture was the biggest challenge for me. Data sovereignty is a mindset, and the CFO is cautious by nature. I told my CFO: Look, you have all your money in the bank, and now the bank is installing an ATM in your house.
Takeaway: Be flexible about attitudes towards data security, ownership, and sovereignty in the larger interest of the business.
Conclusion: To bring about effective change, therefore, it is imperative for CIOs to dive into the realities of their businesses hands on and be part of the strategy team to ensure data migration to the cloud as painless as possible. Kendall sums up the CIO’s role well when she says, “As a former programmer, I get it. It’s our responsibility to come further across the table to learn the business, instead of just code slinging.”