One CIO’s 2024 Priority: Taming the Data Storm
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Recently, I was fortunate enough to get some time with the CIO of a mid-sized financial services company. When I asked him what his most pressing priority was for 2024, he answered, “taming the data storm.”

CIOs are no longer viewed as just the owner of an IT system, working in the background and only heard from when there’s a major upgrade planned, or there’s downtime. However, they are often tasked with driving ROI by making the right moves with foundational cloud systems and data and IT operations, as well as how the organization uses new technology to work efficiently and serve customers more effectively. 

CIOs also need to prioritize data-driven initiatives that can have a measurable impact on the customer experience, as those initiatives have a greater potential business impact, according to this CIO study of 2024 priorities conducted by PwC.

Taming the data storm

In terms of data, the CIO was both excited and slightly dismayed. After all, in PwC’s August 2023 Pulse Survey, CIOs ranked data challenges as one of the top obstacles to being able to successfully transform a business model. There’s more raw data than ever before, in multiple locations (e.g. in cloud and on-premises data stores). Meanwhile, businesses are demanding rapid access to data for such use cases as:

  1. Creating real-time campaign monitoring tools for measuring the performance of marketing campaigns.
  2. Creating business insights for better customer acquisition and prediction.
  3. Gaining a better understanding of which products should be decommissioned and when.
  4. Improving forecasting and price optimization.
  5. Improving personalization and recommendation of products, services, and content.

and many, many more.

To produce data for the above use cases, it may need to be integrated from a variety of systems, standardized, and made available to business and technical users. For example, to develop a “customer sentiment” model – emails and social media data may need to be combined with customer reviews on the website. Relying on long, complex data engineering pipelines may add additional overhead and deliver the data too slowly, making it less relevant.

So how would you “tame the data storm?” I asked him.

His reply was that this required a governed, agile data architecture as part of an overall IT Infrastructure Modernization initiative. And he went on to describe what this would include:

  1. Abstracted access to multiple data systems for business consumers, which hid the complexity of accessing the underlying data sources and exposed the data in business-friendly formats, regardless of where the underlying data was stored. For example, it should not matter to a data scientist building a customer sentiment model whether data is stored on AWS, Salesforce, or streaming in via a social media API.
  2. Governed access to data, especially personally identifiable data. Only the right people (and applications) with the right needs should have access. For example, there is no need for a data scientist to have access to social security numbers.
  3. Support for hybrid and multi-cloud architectures and ensuring business continuity while data migrations occur from on-premises or legacy applications to the cloud. This is because it is likely that a CIO’s organization is rapidly adopting cloud solutions, and it falls on the CIO to make sure that data initiatives continue seamlessly during these migrations.
  4. It should provide the agility to build new digital business lines. For example, the CIO’s fintech organization might want to venture into insurance with new digital offerings, and the IT infrastructure needs to quickly support this.
  5. Finally, of course, it should be cost-effective.

Get Logical for the CIO

This CIO had commissioned a proof-of-value on the Denodo Platform and was significantly impressed with its capabilities. Denodo applies a logical approach to data management, which abstracts access to multiple data systems for business and technical users while also delivering data according to predefined semantics and data governance rules. This is the “governed, agile data architecture” he was referring to.

And this was not just talk. The Denodo Platform has decreased data delivery times by 65% over extract-transform-load (ETL) processes. Data scientists have been known to spend 67% less time on data preparation tasks with this platform. The Platform can deliver payback in less than 6 months, which helps CIOs to justify their IT budgets to CFOs and business leaders. This means quicker, business friendly data for the use cases discussed above, while easing budgetary pressures.

Consider LeasePlan, a global Car-as-a-Service company, with approximately 1.8 million vehicles under management in 29 countries. LeasePlan used the Denodo Platform to quickly integrate data from heterogeneous sources including SAP, Salesforce, IBM DB2, Snowflake, and others, for insights to improve their services. The company also moved its on-premises data to the cloud with zero downtime for BI reports.

This CIO ended our conversation with these words: “I would advise anyone who needs help taming the data storms in their organization to give the Denodo Platform a try.”

For more information about CIOs and their modernization initiatives, watch this webinar entitled The CIO Mandate for Business Agility and Productivity with Data Infrastructure.

Sunny Panjabi
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