Big data is more than just a buzzword these days—but it can be both a massive opportunity and a huge problem for companies. Digital data collection has been a practice since the dawn of computing, but the exponential increase of information, in terms of smartphones, social, search and the IoT, have created a snowball effect when it comes to the data that’s generated, collected and stored. What’s that mean? It means lots of possibilities for smarter products and services, smarter marketing and smarter business practices. It means 88 percent of executives say big data is a top priority for their company. But it also means lots of challenges are coming their way.
The amount of data we create each year creates a staggering set of problems for those who are in charge of managing it. Thankfully, we’re no longer in an era where one person has all the collective responsibility for an organization’s data. That said, the CIO is most often tasked with developing systems of record that can leverage tech to drive better business processes.
We know CIOs face innumerable challenges when it comes to big data, but what are the biggest big data challenges for CIOs in 2016? Let’s break down.
- Collection. The challenge with collection doesn’t have to be the obvious one (how do we collect it)? What if—as Clorox’s CIO Manjit Singh discussed in an interview on the very subject—it was something more high level, like “how to get insight out of the data — what questions to ask and how to use the data to predict results in the business?” Singh is right. CIOs should ask themselves to determine what data is important to collect from a business case standpoint? What data isn’t? How is it decided? CIOs can start by looking at big data collection from a big picture perspective.
- Storage. Logic states that big data takes some big attention to storage, and it’s the truth. Besides the sheer volume requirements of all those byes, certain data also needs to be available on demand at any time. This can be for operations purposes or compliance. Even though storage is more available than ever, it isn’t all created equal. CIOs should examine infrastructure and cloud options thoroughly before any checks are signed. Purchasing too much is wasting money, but too little could mean crashes and costly downtime.
- Organization and Management. To make data useful, it needs to not just be stored and accessible but organized in some way that makes it easy to find and easy to pull. That way, data scientists and other users can locate, analyze, and apply the information in a way that is both efficient and measurable.
- Conversion. With companies turning to more and more Chief Data Officers, Architects, and Analysts, it is critical that business intelligence tools are readily available these individuals. While they may be involved in selecting the tools for creating business intelligence, the CIO needs to have systems in place—systems for collection, storage and organization, and management—so they can actually use them.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that internal infrastructure costs money, and many organizations want results from big data initiatives sooner rather than later. In these instances where financial and analytical expectations don’t jive—and in a ton of other big data situations, too—CIOs who have not yet done so should consider taking a look at cloud-based options, especially in the realm of increased operability provided by SaaS.
- Unstructured Data Growth. Big data is more than just data produced by and for a company. Even when consumers aren’t interacting specifically with a brand—when they’re making posts on social media, uploading videos, or generating any other type of personalized content—they’re giving businesses insight into their habits, preferences and consumer behaviors. Even when it’s not explicitly tied to their business pages or endeavors—perhaps, actually, especially when it’s not—CIOs need to develop systems to collect, store, organize, and make this valuable customer data usable for operations, sales, and marketing.
Big data has already had a substantial impact on the way businesses operate internally, interact with consumers, and navigate their respective markets. That big data snowball keeps rolling, though, and even more changes are forthcoming. If you’re a CIO who can conquer the challenges above without losing sight of the opportunities success will bring, 2016 will be a great year.
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