How Big Data is Elevating the Role of the CIO and Transforming the IT Department

A Radical Shift in Focus and Perspective

Information technology (IT) traditionally focused on the processes of managing data, rather than on data itself. The relatively new idea that data itself has intrinsic business value is forcing corporate IT departments to rethink many long-held beliefs about data management. The notion that data has value—that it is, in fact, the new oil—is having a seismic impact on the IT function.

“We’re going to see a lot of changes in the IT industry,” says Harvey Koeppel, a veteran chief information officer (CIO) whose lengthy career includes executive posts at Citigroup and Chemical Bank, now part of JPMorgan Chase. “We’re at the beginning of an inflection point, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.” Until very recently, the primary role of IT was to enable business processes. From a technology perspective, that role forced IT to focus almost exclusively on the programs running underneath those business processes.

“That master/slave relationship is drawing to an end,” says Koeppel. The reason for the sea change seems relatively simple on its surface: many companies now perceive that their data has more inherent business value than all the various processes and technologies necessary for managing that data.

“Historically, the IT industry was based on a process paradigm,” says Fred Balboni, who leads the big data and analytics practice in IBM Global Business Services. ...

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