CIO Leadership, Big Data

CIO takes on a new definition – Chief Officer for Information

The role of the CIO gets a new meaning

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Recently, I had blogged about ROI taking on a new definition – Return on Information. In a similar vein, the title CIO (Chief Information Officer) is long overdue for a new definition as well. The meaning of information has evolved and has a lot more significance today — just ask Big Data! The Gartner newsletter titled “Collaborate to maximize business value from strategic information” defines Strategic Information Management for the enterprise, and highlights specific calls to action for the CIO in this context. In this new world of the CIO, the emphasis should be on the word “Information” and therefore, the role should be labeled Chief Officer for Information.

Below are the four calls to action for the CIO mentioned in the Gartner newsletter — along with my observations — which reinforce this new definition.

Roadmap. “CIOs must have a high-level, five-year information outlook on the kinds, types and qualities of information that will be needed.” Information needs for the enterprise must drive the overall IT strategy. But CIOs need to include a healthy dose of innovation with a business purpose. Working closely with the people who have the sexiest job in the 21st century will position the CIO in the driver's seat.

Diagnosis. “Practice deflecting requests for technology into discussions of the change.” CIOs must look beyond the veil of tactical requests and zero in on the underlying root cause. They can take a cue from doctors, meteorologists, scientists and psychologists — any professional that analyzes patterns of behavior to identify a syndrome.

Workforce. “With your internal IT team, identify, create staff for, and train information-focused job roles.” This is validation that the Data Scientist has the sexiest job in the 21st century. CIOs must take a look at the skill sets needed to assess, analyze, diagnose, discern and present information to the right stakeholders at the right time. A new style of IT is emerging. It is going to need a new style of thinking, and a revitalized workforce with new skill sets.

Governance. “With your executive team, evolve an information governance model.” Governance is one of my most frequent topics. I have shared thoughts on how SOA Governance evolved to Cloud Governance, and the fundamental need for Data Governance. After all, it’s the data, stupid — govern it! This newsletter reinforces the need to have the appropriate governance for the most valuable asset for your enterprise — information!

In addition to these four calls to action, I would propose a fifth one:

Value. CIOs must have an effective mechanism in place to assess the Return on Information. There is a simple formula I share in this post on using data that matters. Having the right value measurement framework in the workplace and at home will validate the actions taken by the CIO when defining the roadmap, diagnosing the root cause, establishing the workforce, and evolving an information governance model.

So, how is your enterprise positioned today? Does your enterprise have the information it needs? Have you taken a look at the Information Optimization Transformation Experience Workshop? Please let me now.

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Myles Suer 154 Points | Tue, 04/02/2013 - 15:26

It is interesting that you have suggested this. I am about to post a similar blog based on a recent article from Booz and Company. They like you extoll a move from a focus on technology to a focus on information. Big change!

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Fri, 04/12/2013 - 20:42

Thanks for weighing in, Myles, and sharing your thoughts.

Competitive Enterprises need to focus on Action on the Big Data:

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John Dodge 1534 Points | Tue, 04/02/2013 - 18:15

In substance, you are right...CIOs focusing more on the information. But I cannot see much difference between chief information officer and chief officer of information except that it's different and might get you to pause and think about it for a second or two...

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Fri, 04/12/2013 - 20:45

Agree, John.  Sometimes, we get so used to a cliche term and its original intent that a slight adjustment is likely to give it the pause it deserves.  When I suggest changing the reference to "Chief Officer for Information", my intent is to shift the focus from "Officer" to "Information".  Something like .... the Chief Officer for .... <drum roll> .... Information! - with all its various definitions:

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John Dodge 1534 Points | Fri, 04/12/2013 - 20:51

That is so true...getting people to notice or pause and think is the response you're looking for...

Doug Goddard 123 Points | Tue, 04/02/2013 - 14:25

Read the Gartner Report and a few questions came to mind.

First, why is it necessarily the CIO's responsibility to determine what the corporate, strategic information requirements are, in light of the fact that so many CEOs have no idea? It seems to me that job requires a combination of very strong business acumen and knowledge of advanced analytical techniques and is in essence the person who is establishing long-term corporate strategies. Isn't that the CEO's job? I see a whole new set of Linkedin discussion topics coming on "Is the CIO the new CEO?"

Second, is the IT department likely to be the one that possesses analytical talent? We are talking about people with advanced degrees that develop statistical models and algorithms, employ trend analysis, predictive modeling, optimization and simulation, data mining techniques, etc. How many people like that currently grace the average IT department?

Finally, how do we know we need a completely new way to measure the value of a new asset type "Information" if we have no idea of how to actually measure the value? If we do not know how to measure the value of information, how do we decide which  projects to invest in?


Great topic.



E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Fri, 04/12/2013 - 20:54

Thanks for your detailed comments, Doug.

1. Fully agree that CIO does not do this in isolation and needs to work with the Executive Leadership including the CEO.  At the same time, this is not the sole focus of the CEO either.

2. The new "Data Scientist" type of Analytical talent is not likely to exist within the Enterprise at large.  Enterprises must train and recruit such talent while maintaining their cohesive presence across business units and IT.  IT need not be the only place where such talent is required but it is certainly one of them.

3. I would say that we are just in the rocky beginnings of recognizing information as an asset and are collectively experiencing the pains and challenges.  This does not negate the need to proactively continue to innovatively explore techniques that could be used to respect the growing presence of the latest asset type in town - Information!

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Pearl Zhu 90 Points | Sat, 03/30/2013 - 18:06

When CIO = Chief Information Officer, it's back to the root of such imaginable title, and fullfill the purpose of CIO role: To manage enterprise information and untap business potential; and during such information journey, you would reach further monta visa view points for innovation, improvement, influence., etc. 


E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Fri, 04/12/2013 - 20:48

Pearl, fully agree that the focus on the new definitions for Information are taking us back to the roots of the CIO role.

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