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CIO Summit Interview: Turning your Big Data into a competitive weapon

T.C. Seow | July 4, 2013
Ahead of the 2013 CIO Summit on 31 July in Singapore, Kimberly Nevala, Director, Thought Leadership Delivery, SAS Best Practices, shares her views about the challenges confronting CIOs hoping to ride the Big Data wave.

In addition, as data becomes a certified product in its own right companies with the ability to quickly integrate, synthesise and delivery unique data sets gain a significant competitive advantage. This will be a boon to organisations that have invested in maturing their information management capabilities. And a curse—or death knell—to those that haven't.

On a slightly different front, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact social and collaborative applications—including the move to a mobile mindset—will have on how companies manage and transact business with customers and employees alike.

Like any other strategic endeavour this will be a boon and a curse. Social and collaborative applications will offer companies the opportunity to be increasingly close to and entwined with customer perspectives and needs. But with this level of exposure comes increased expectations for nimble, agile response and rich, contextually appropriate interactions wherever and whenever. Big data, real-time analytics and decision making? Step right up.

Ultimately, bringing all of these competing perspectives together to deliver business value will require new accountabilities and rules of engagement between the business and IT. It may even eliminate the line between the two entirely.

How are you and your organisation preparing to help CIOs overcome the challenges brought on by these trends (as cited in the previous question) and make the most of the advantages they bring?

As the old saying goes, luck favours the prepared. SAS continues to be a key innovator in the areas of business analytics, big data and information management.

However, making the most of current technologies and preparing for future—and as yet unknown—opportunities requires companies to think differently relative to how the business operates and the role technology plays. This can be a significant shift in mindset for both business stakeholders and technologists alike. Change management is key.

With this in mind SAS focuses on helping clients identify and develop the organisational capabilities and practices required to respond to the opportunities—and challenges—afforded by the "digital era". This includes:

  • Fostering collaborative decision making and ensuring that information and analytic strategies are an inherent part of business strategy, as opposed to discrete entities
  • Raising awareness and support for data-driven decision making from the C-suite to operations
  • Cultivating the necessary skills and processes to manage and exploit strategic information assets. Enter the heralded "data scientist". But it doesn't stop there. Data-driven decision making requires new skills and rules of engagement on the part of both the business and technology.
  • Developing robust information governance programs that promote business-driven data strategies and create appropriate guardrails for data acquisition, sharing and usage.

CIOs are confronting a new level of urgency, not only around emerging technologies, but around new ways of thinking about how to do business. New IT capabilities are driving new ways to think about customers and products. The CIOs who can determine the trends that matter, and get out in front of them, will be the ones who succeed.


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