The Society for Information Management (SIM) 2016 IT Trends Study highlighted important IT topics including priorities, budgets, salaries, skill needs, headcounts, performance measurement and how IT executives spend their time. The following is a list of top ten CIO concerns as summarized by Information Management, including how a modern data management platform can address them all.
#1. Alignment of IT with the Business
It’s no surprise this issue is #1, alignment between IT and business is a recurring challenge. Why? Because IT has to grapple with backend tools and infrastructure, while business cares about rapid access to the data to make informed decisions. Business often views IT investments in big data Hadoop as “franken-projects” that don’t correlate to the problems that need to be addressed today.
A platform that combines a modern data management Platform as a Service (PaaS) that seamlessly delivers frontline business facing applications can help. This ensures that the technology is enabling fast time to value with both teams “pulling on the same rope” to achieve company goals.
#2. Security and Privacy
Security and privacy continues to be front and center. With an increasingly digital economy, the age of social media, and stringent data management regulations, which are different based on industry and geography.
A modern data management PaaS will provide the highest level of compliance and data governance. Enabling IT to maintain access to data by role and business goals, down to the attribute-level. A detailed audit log tracks not only modifications and access to data, but even search terms and parameters. For CIOs who are concerned about public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, who host modern PaaS technology, are proven and relied upon by the CIA.
#3. Speed of IT Delivery and Time to Market
The billions of dollars spent by LOB teams on self-service data preparation, self-service business intelligence, and outsourced “as-a-service insights and intelligence” reflect a desire to shortcut IT projects are typically measured in months and years, not days and weeks.
A 100% cloud PaaS ensuring agility through IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) partners, such as Amazon Web Services has built-in Daas (Data as a Service) to rapidly onboard and blend data across all sources. Ultimately resulting in SaaS data-driven applications that deliver information into the hands of users at the speed of business, optimizing time to value.
No CIO has ever said “no thanks” to innovation. The problem lies in the legacy infrastructure which acts as a resource and budget anchor, preventing innovation. Even when budget is available, the onslaught of new technologies (witness the never ending spawning of Apache open source projects) makes new initiatives obsolete even before POCs have been completed.
Modern PaaS incorporates the latest NoSQL, big data, analytics and machine learning technologies such as Apache Cassandra, Spark and ElasticSearch. A metadata foundation supports the logical definition of the business, unconstrained by physical storage and implementation. In effect, a modern PaaS acts as a technology portfolio manager, swapping out the latest in innovative technologies when they mature. Ensuring that CIOs never have to fund those random Hadoop research projects again.
#5. Business Productivity & Efficiency
How can IT support business productivity and efficiency when many IT teams don’t fully understand the use of data once it reaches the hands of the frontline business user? IT’s focus has long been to ensure the security, management, and governance of the data. Data quality and reliability is a fundamental need that impacts business and an area in which IT and business must collaborate because only business truly understands the data, and whether it is comprehensive, and of high enough quality to improve operational execution and decision making.
A modern PaaS is rooted on a foundation of master data management (MDM) process and discipline. The best PaaS technology providers are also ranked as leaders in the Forrester Wave for MDM delivering not only in current offering and vision, but in delivering the highest business value and context.
#6. IT Value Proposition to the Business
Those not in the CIO shoes might think that this is the same as “#1 Alignment of IT to the business”. But this important topic of concern is around not just the types of projects that IT executes on, but ultimately the ROI delivered, as measured by business outcomes. CIOs are in between a rock and a hard place because today’s tools and platforms start and end with IT specific measures as regards to ROI (e.g. reduction in skilled IT experts, faster data loads, better performance). There has not been a way to accurately correlate IT investment to business outcomes … until now.
Combining both an IT data management PaaS – that is able to track the sourcing, lineage and consumption history of every attribute of every record – with the seamless integration and delivery of data-driven applications – in which business users leverage the same data to make business decisions and take action – is the ultimate solution. It gives IT teams full visibility and metrication of business outcomes. For the first time, IT and business can close the loop on ROI, directly recognizing the value IT brings to the table.
#7. IT Agility & Flexibility
Cloud embodies how CIOs can be more agile and flexible. Eliminating heavyweight, expensive to install and maintain on-premises hardware and software is critical. As processing power and the cost of storage keeps falling, companies who are handcuffed to massive CAPEX investments are unable to pivot when business needs inevitably change. The use of legacy on-premises software, upon which 12 to 18 month upgrade versions to receive new functionality also prevents any timely innovative competitive advantage.
They key is not just 100% cloud, but multi-tenant cloud. Like Salesforce.com and other innovative public cloud providers, multi-tenant Cloud delivers no impact upgrades 3 times a year. This not only provides the latest technology and features (see #4. Innovation) as soon as it becomes mature and viable, but dramatically eliminates the hidden costs of upgrade of on-premises or managed services/hosted solutions masquerading as cloud offerings. Even with unlimited financial flexibility for upgrades, the pain of on-premises hardware and software upgrade cycles comes from missed opportunities when resources are tied up simply moving from one version to another in an endless cycle.
#8. IT Cost Reduction & Controls
Cloud again helps here, this time in the form of OPEX. The ability to dial-up and more importantly dial-down storage, processing and other costs, ensures that IT can spend what it needs to and not a penny more. Shedding “over procuremen-titus” is great, but savings can also come from consolidation of IT investments in large enterprises, across divisions. This however requires significant coordination and collaboration between teams, and the elimination of “Shadow IT“.
Meanwhile the dramatic reduction in the cost of devices is now juxtaposed with the consumerization of IT, with business users demanding BYOD (Bring your own device) options. This is a security risk as well as a costly endeavor to ensure that applications run consistently on different variations of devices (mobile and PC), and versions of operating systems.
Using built-in Data as a Service can dramatically lower the cost of data acquisition from third party vendors. It can be used as a “clearing-house” to manage and monitor the consumption of data across groups, eliminating redundant data purchases. Data-driven applications can be delivered via industry standard HTML5 form, enabling embedding in existing interfaces and full compatibility with all browsers, again dramatically reducing development and support costs.
#9. Business Agility & Flexibility
The best way for IT to support business agility and flexibility is to bring together reliable data, relevant insights, and to have data-driven applications increase the speed and accuracy of actions taken by frontline business users, as business conditions fluctuate. Unfortunately today’s applications are siloed and process-driven. Focusing on a single group (e.g. CRM for sales, Marketing Automation for marketing), and there is little collaboration across teams. An isolated problem solving focus results in siloed data, which in turn necessitates yet more technology to blend and manage data to form an elusive customer or product 360-degree view.
Eliminating data silos should be a mission for all CIOs. By bringing together data across the enterprise, with MDM rigor for reliable data quality, personalized contextual relevant insights, and machine learning formulated recommended actions can help business teams be more agile. A single pool of information managed at big data scale, from a modern PaaS uncovers hidden business relationships using graph technology(similar to those used by LinkedIn, Facebook and Google), to reveal insights for competitive advantage. By going beyond just master data, and including transactions and interactions, a modern PaaS forms the foundation for analytics and machine learning. A new breed of PaaS allows IT teams to respond to business needs for process changes, or new sources of data in a timeframe previously deemed impossible.
#10. Business Cost Reduction & Controls
Many IT departments require business approval for funding of projects, so a focus on their own IT costs are mutually beneficial. However business teams also spend billions every year in their search for agility on disparate tools for business intelligence and self-service data prep. IT needs to deliver a reliable data foundation upon which business teams can gain the trusted and relevant insight they need, without searching for a needle in a haystack through ad-hoc queries. Another area that IT can help is the significant cost of training of users on how to use new applications and tools.
A modern data management PaaS that seamlessly delivers data-driven apps can reduce or eliminate business’ reliance or appetite for standalone self-service tools. By delivering the right information into the hands of the right users at the right time these next generation role and context sensitive apps are based on the exact same easy-to-use, zero training needs as popular apps such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon and Google.
Thanks for reading this rather lengthy post. A modern PaaS is like a Swiss army knife, architected to handle any challenge past, present and future. I welcome your feedback and comments.