Is Big Data IT’s gift to the CEO?

Data Gift copyAt the beginning of June, I was at the Gartner CIO & IT Executive Summit in Berlin. It was an interesting event to attend in terms of the advice given to the CIOs at the event, how to deal with the “digital industrial revolution” and how to support the CEO’s top business priorities.


From the Gartner survey, a CEO’s top five priorities for 2014/15 are growth, costs, profit, IT and the customer.

Growth was number one and to support the CEO’s top priorities, Gartner suggested that the CIO will need to deliver a digital technology architecture, an enterprise information architecture, a strong cybersecurity & risk program and an industrialized IT infrastructure.

After the keynote, I attended one of the presentations on “Techniques for the CIO to demonstrate IT value and secure budgets”. The top things that were recommended were:

  • Use benchmarking to provide context of IT spending in line with industry averages. Consider the metrics being used to run the business grow the business, transform the business and map these to IT and a long term CIO plan.
  • Create a cash view of the IT budget to show the business the services that IT delivers and explain the positive impact IT can have on the business. The goal is to get the CFO to say “we’re not showing the true value of IT because I’m not giving them enough budget.”
  • Market the success of IT – think about what has been done well in the past and communicate this internally by showing the impact of IT on business outcomes.
  • Communicate the art of what is possible. It is important for the CIO to show the art of the possible and new opportunities if IT had a larger budget.

It was an insightful presentation and being in technology and marketing, it got me thinking about how and why selling and marketing the value of IT is key to support the CEO and secure budget.


For as long as I’ve been in IT (20 years alarmingly) there has always been a discussion on closing that business and IT gap (ultimately the CEO and CIO). I worked at BEA for nearly five years and back then the promise was that SOA and BPM would close that gap. Whether that was successful or not is a debate for another time and another place but the idea was a good one.

After the Gartner event – the questions I’m asking myself are:

  • Is big data finally the thing that can close the gap between the business and IT?
  • Is big data the tool to allow the CIO to show the value of IT to the CEO?
  • Is big data IT’s gift to the CEO to support the number one priority of growth?


Data isn’t new, clearly, and there are all kinds of data (variety) needed to support the three fundamental roles IT – run the business, grow the business and ultimately transform the business.

There’s going to be a lot of data (volume) from the variety of data sources. IT is number four in the CEO’s priorities (up from 11th) – the highest it has ever been in a Gartner CEO survey. IT has never been more critical or more depended on by the business – quite simply it is business critical, has to work and has to be secure. This means you need to reply on your data and trust it (veracity).

Finally, we’re in “the age of the customer” and for customer experience and satisfaction, upsell and cross sell, it will come down to those “business moments.” Taking the right decision quickly relies of the data being real-time (velocity).

We’re all spending a lot of time in the industry now talking about the last “V” of data – value and time to value. If data, increasingly big data, has to deliver value then it needs to be made accessible to everyone and democratized to support those key business moments.


Having attended the Gartner event, if I was a CIO (perish the thought!) talking to a CEO, I think I’d want to communicate it in a different way than “value” – I’d explain big data as a key enabler in speeding up time-to-growth. If growth is the CEOs number 1 priority – is big data IT and the CIO’s gift to the CEO to accelerate and deliver a fast and effective “time-to-growth”?


As always thanks for reading – love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Matt Davies

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