Succeeding in Big Data Transformation - It is a Journey, Not a Destination!

Charting the Big Data Journey
Last week I participated in an Executive Boardroom with other CIOs discussing their challenges formulating, partnering and executing their Big Data and next-generation analytic strategies. There were some common themes challenging the CIOs - so if you're a CIO then you're not alone. Big Data can be transformational if you focus on the right questions, develop the talent, adopt practices that are still evolving, and deliver value through selective application of new technologies. It's not an easy path - effectively like driving a car while you're still building it, learning how to operate it efficiently, and contemplating what parts of the engine to upgrade.

One area we debated was whether to define an end state. I took a position on this question and reminded CIOs that getting value from Big Data is a journey and not a destination. It requires similar practices as  innovation and ideation, specifically, an agile approach to identifying the questions of greatest value, data science experimentation to find answers, and retrospective analysis to decide the next step in the journey.

I caught some nods from participants, others who prefer getting the governance defined, and others who would rather see well defined business goals. You decide.

Other Big Data Discussions

  • What's Driving Big Data - Many CIOs are helping Marketing and other business partners develop a 360 customer view. Some are working with Operations and hope that they can better forecast issues and opportunities in their supply chains. Still others are still "trying to get the governance right" and are starting to formally define the business owners and data stewards for their existing data repositories.

  • Demystifying Governance - CIOs have the challenge to address governance issues, but without making these efforts as complete prerequisites to moving the business forward. CIOs recognize that they have to train business leader on new terminology (data steward), technologies (data visualization, data quality), and practices (change management, master data) while still demonstrating business value.

  • Pragmatic Challenges - CIOs debated whether investing in one size fits all dashboards was a better approach versus supporting too many customized reports. Even better, many are trying to determine how to move from historical reporting to more predictive applications. Some are still trying to determine, "What to do with all the data" and "How do we find the nuggets".

All good questions.... It's a journey. Special thanks to Evanta for hosting a great event.

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.