Public Sector CIO Interviews Unveil Tips for Big Data Vendors

Mohamad Elbarasse_headshot_7-23-2013_For WordPressby Mohamad ElbarasseAnalyst

As big data tumbles closer to the “Trough of Disillusionment,” CIOs are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to the perception that big data is a passing fad, according to the IBM Center for The Business of Government. For their latest release of the Using Technology Series, Realizing the Promise of Big Data: Implementing Big Data Projects, IBM interviewed 28 CIOs at the federal, state, and local levels and compiled a list of findings that will help you to sell your analytic solutions to the government.

The most telling findings are that:

  • Most CIOs are now primarily dealing with the issue of managing large volumes of data, integrating data across database systems, and building an analytical capacity to mine data
  • CIOs report that some big data projects are now focused on streamlining business processes
  • CIOs do not recommend IT units as owners of big data projects

So what does this mean for big data vendors?

First and foremost, you should be targeting director level personnel and higher when trying to gain traction for your solution. Big data projects are usually massive undertakings that cut across multiple departments and agencies and CIOs have found little success with tasking individual business units to oversee initiatives of this size. Top level buy-in is critical and must be coupled with a plan to execute and implement the project for it to be successful. The report points out that “big data projects are messy and unglamorous at the start,” and this can be discouraging unless a broader goal is set from the outset.

Secondly, the fact that some CIOs are using big data projects to focus on streamlining business processes means that alternative messaging may prove to be more effective. One CIO remarked, “A focus exclusively on data issues will not get people to care, but if you can get their attention on process improvement and innovation for organizational value then they do care.” Shifting the conversation towards how your big data solution can increase efficiency and ROI from an organizational perspective will resonate more than showcasing the latest tools.

Finally, for big data to truly be big, it must be able to reach across varied systems, departments, and agencies and bring them all together under one roof. At this point CIOs are mainly dealing with structured data and are still having issues with data integration within their own organizations. Focus on how your solution can make unwieldy data more manageable and accessible. For big data projects to be successful, a strong case must be made for the value that it can bring to an organization; a plan must be set in place before execution including performance indicators to measure progress; and leadership must work together to see the vision through to the end.

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