As Big Data Hype Increases, CIOs Will Need to Manage Expectations

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Overpromising and under-delivering could kill the momentum behind data-driven projects


Business executives see value in projects that seek to leverage enterprise data in new and innovative ways. That’s why data-driven initiatives are enjoying a rise in management support.

IDG’s 2015 Big Data and Analytics survey found that just 16 percent of respondents from large organizations said lack of management support was an impediment. Which might explain why the number of organizations that have deployed or implemented data-driven projects increased by 125 percent over the past year.

Now that the management ranks are excited about big data, it’s up to IT to temper expectations a bit. Overpromising and under-delivering could kill the momentum that data-driven projects currently enjoy.

It’s easy to get carried away by all the hype surrounding hot topics like big data and predictive analytics. Emerging cloud-based services and tools give organizations better ways to collect, store, clean, prep and analyze massive quantities of data from myriad new sources. But don’t confuse the ability to do something with actually deriving business value from it.

IT leaders have learned the importance of tying data initiatives to specific business objectives. The quickest way to derail a data initiative is to make it about the technology rather than business goals. Business users care less about the tools and more about finding the data they need to do their jobs better.

That’s why data management experts recommend companies start with small, focused initiatives rather than sweeping enterprise-wide projects. Implementing a narrower data project can help organizations avoid data overload, minimize the costs associated with cleaning, normalizing and integrating data for analysis, and make it easier to derive and demonstrate business value.

These projects represent the “business extension” opportunities that Gartner analyst Svetlana Sicular distinguishes from bigger, “game-changing” initiatives.  The use cases and the evaluation criteria are very different in each case and need to be approached that way as well.

IT leaders have made significant progress in aligning emerging technology with business needs. As excitement around data-driven transformation increases within the C-suite, CIOs will need to continue to carefully manage expectations so that the reality at least comes close to matching the hype.

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