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Experience “The Big Pivot”



Graeme Thompson,
SVP/CIO Informatica
The Big Pivot Podcast explores Digital transformation and its effect on every business in every industry. In exploring the business benefits of data-driven transformation, it is for CIOs who want to have a real impact on serving customers, empowering employees, and growing revenues. Hosted by Rob O’Regan of IDG, the series features Graeme Thompson, SVP/CIO Informatica, a CIO that exemplifies a strategic executive who is leveraging data to drive change throughout his organization. Series guests include:


The New CIO role


A key point highlighted throughout the series is that the CIO’s role has shifted radically. No longer focused on using IT to improve the internal productivityof business functions, today’s best information executives partner with functional peers to deliver new business models and associated revenue streams. For them, the main challenges is a constant battle with legacy technology and legacy thinking. For software companies, this painful shift could be from an established initial license purchase and annual maintenance revenue model to a software subscription model.  Product-wise this may also include shifting from custom offerings to delivering fixed and standardize software services. CIOs must help the C-suite move away from functional level optimization and towards an enterprise success focus that provides scalable real-time data integration. This data foundation must also include an analytics platform that extracts application data, delivers visibility across each end-to-end business process (i.e., hire-to-retire, procure-to-pay, campaign-to-opportunity) and optimizes outcomes for customers and the entire company.

While the traditional CIO purview was mostly limited to IT infrastructure details (i.e., # of servers, wireless access points, storage devices), the new CIO must be equally aware of the number of corporate database instances, which ones have customer data and who has access to this data.  Data is the foundation of digital transformation so the CIO must be as focused on the data as they are on the physical aspects of IT. They must effectively leverage digital assets and escalate the use of data above the operational function that creates it to target enterprise level opportunities. The CIO is in a unique position because they are:
  • Best positioned to understand end to end processes and functions; and
  • Close to emerging technologies that enable them to identify profitable IT implementation opportunities.

Manage data as currency


The Big Pivot Episode 6 presents a thought exercise that compares the CIO’s role managing data to that of the CFO managing currency by asking:
  • Does the CFO let each functional organization keep and manage the revenue it makes?
  • Does the CFO leave it up to the goodwill of each functional manager to share their profit with other functional units?
  • Does the CFO only have a vague idea of the amount of money that flows in and out of the corporation?

These questions may seem absurd, but if data is valuable, why doesn’t the CIO manage data like the CFO manages currency?

Data is the foundation of digital business, and digital transformation success is defined by how well an organization leverages its data to create new opportunities. This viewpoint demands the use of secure, timely, accurate, correctly sourced, context applicable and appropriately organized data. While previous implications of bad data were small (an occasional reporting issue or individual process error), today’s businesses and entire industries are dependent on digital assets for success.  Maintaining the value and reliability of underlying data is now an existential priority.

Admittedly, treating data as such a valuable business asset is problematic because most companies try to avoid the political and structural disruption that comes with breaking down the functional silos and norms of the past. A practical way forward is possible, however, by linking technology investment to quantifiable business value. Functional optimizations do not always lead to desired enterprise optimizations so the CIO and senior leadership team must work together in thinking about the best use of data for the benefit of the entire company rather than any specific function. To realize this, changes across the entire system, and not just a functional area, may be required. Avoid the practice of linking data and ownership to the same functional area because this gets in the way of sharing data across the enterprise.

The new data privacy imperative


In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other data privacy regulations are up leveling global data security, privacy regulations and control objectives. By building a globally enforceable framework for data lifecycle management, GDPR is forcing many international companies to classify and protect every individual’s data. Some of the challenges of this new regulation include:
  • The need to be able to closely track all data related to the privacy of an individual;
  • A requirement to demonstrate privacy by design in the handling of all privacy information;
  • An ability to demonstrate to regulators and data subjects the preservation of privacy information integrity through every stage of the information lifecycle; and
  • Enforcement of the right of any individual to demand the erasure of data related to them.

To continue operating, companies must augment their tradition data protection practice of protecting the network and data center environment with operational processes that implement data protection that travels with the data. This includes operations in the mobile environment as well. Data must be secured as an asset and not just as a process by-product.

A mandatory requirement of GDPR is the appointment of the Data Protection Officer, a role that serves as a focal point for data protection activities and related educational processes across the enterprise. These individuals are responsible for handling personal data and must be able to work closely with other governance functions (i.e., info security, legal, record mgmt., audit). New data protection procedures must also be fitted into project planning, external service contracts, procurement processes, data portability, and new internal processes that uphold data erasure rights.

Analytics changes business


The most important takeaway from this series is understanding the need to tie data insights to business outcomes. At its core, digital transformation means shifting from a limited competition based on physical assets to a global competition based on digital assets. The CIO see the business uniquely because, by necessity, they think of the enterprise as a connected system of processes and applications. This viewpoint can be used to effectively and efficiently drive change across the entire enterprise because fundamental business transformations are driven by data analytics that creates opportunities that didn’t previously exist. Incremental change is no longer viable, and products are no longer a selection of features. Today’s competitive offering must be able to use data to inform itself on how it is being used, fix itself if it sees a problem and then uses that data to solve the same or related problems in every other environment in which it operates.

Andrew McIntyre, VP of Technology for the Chicago Cubs on how analytics changes business

This post was brought to you by Informatica and IDG.



Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)



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More Stories By Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson, founder of the GovCloud Network, is an independent technology and business consultant specializing in mission critical solutions. He has served in various senior management positions including VP & GM Cloud Services NJVC, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and VP Program Management Office at JP Morgan Chase. His formal education includes MSEE (Computer Engineering), MA National Security & Strategic Studies and a BS Aerospace Engineering. Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1979 and retired from the US Navy earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Airborne Logistics and Airborne Command and Control. He also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide. Kevin is the founder and author of “Cloud Musings”, a widely followed blog that focuses on the use of cloud computing by the Federal government. He is also the editor and founder of “Government Cloud Computing” electronic magazine, published at Ulitzer.com. To set up an appointment CLICK HERE

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