Big data analytics and the leadership vacuum

We’re in the midst of a series of blog posts, dissecting the results of the Logicalis Global CIO study. In this article, Fanni Vig looks at why big data analytics needs senior business sponsorship.

There’s a reason why football teams need effective managers, why battalions need commanding officers and businesses need visionary CEOs: People with authority have the ability to influence the behaviour of others. Without this leadership – whether through authority, tactics or a view of the future - it’s hard to imagine any organisation moving forward with one mind, with everyone pulling in the same direction.

The same is true of innovation and change initiatives.  To take hold in any business they must be championed by the leadership team (not just IT).

And yet, when it comes to big data analytics, a critical component of success in the digital age, that leadership is strangely absent.  According to our CIO study, 77% of businesses report a lack of line of business involvement in big data analytics and 93% say analytics programmes still don’t enjoy board level involvement.

This is despite Gartner encouraging businesses to “be prepared [for] big data initiatives [that] will bring about significant business, organisational, technological and, in some instances, industry transformations.”

In the same breath, Gartner entreated businesses to “develop a culture and leaders that value facts and sound analyses to overcome human limitations in decision making, insight discovery and process optimisation.”

Why?  Because the grassroots may bristle with ideas and the IT department may be bursting with knowhow, but - in the end - it’s a business leader’s stamp of approval that enables big data projects to soar.

Why should we care about big data analytics projects?

Quite simply, businesses will thrive or falter based on the speed with which they can draw insight from previously untapped data and put it in front of people who are able to act on it. I’d go further and say that, in today’s data driven world, cognitive and predictive analysis are the keys to success – and their absence will soon be a key reason for business failure.

However, over the past decade, many departments have sought data solutions resulting in chaotic data strategy and lack of data integrity. GDPR and information security related issues highlight the need for a central force to drive the implementation of an appropriate data management strategy and due to the increased risk around information security, more often than not, data management related decisions gravitate back to IT as they seem to be the only discipline that can enforce corporate wide implementation of tools and processes.

But IT needs to understand that, as my colleague Malek el Khazen noted in a previous blog post, the lack of timely business analytics can lead to logistical, manufacturing and, ultimately, financial disaster – in less time than it takes to pull a comprehensive report.

To be clear, I’m not saying any leader will do. Of course, the CIO needs to be involved but the project sponsor has to be someone who comes from the wider business; who can define the need and articulate ‘why’. Indeed, I have no doubt that, of the 52% of organisations that are working with big data, those that support business data analysis with genuine clout and leadership time will be the most likely to succeed.

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Tags IT Leadership, Business Intelligence, business intelligence, IT leaders, CIO, Uncategorised, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Strategy