CIO Insights: The culture of data—Putting data to work for the business

Director of Offering Management, IBM Analytics, IBM

Recently I've had the pleasure of interviewing some key IBM leaders about data and analytics, migration to cloud, digital transformation and other topics we've found to be important to CIOs in our client organizations. In this blog and several others to follow, I'll be sharing some snippets from those conversations. The interviews themselves will also be available as podcasts. I hope you'll enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed chatting with those key leaders. Don't miss our previous episode with IBM's CIO Jeff Smith.

When I spoke with Derek Schoettle, General Manager, Analytics Platform Services, the subject of open source capabilities came up a few times. Here I’ll share Derek’s take on that and more.

Derek and I talked about how it really is an exciting time to be a CIO, in fact he mentions, it’s never been a sexier time to be a CIO.  Why?  Because you have so much more flexibility and choice for how you solve problems with the combination of data, open source and cloud.  Data is going to change the culture of business, and in fact it becomes the culture when you truly embrace it. 

CIO Insights: The culture of data—Putting data to work for the business

Open for data

Open can mean many things, so we started talking about open source. Derek mentioned the need to tear down the traditional walls of closed development and instead open it up so many more can contribute. Then the next challenge CIOs need to think about is how do we integrate and operationalize all of the great stuff out there in the open source community. Today, more and more organizations are finding ways to tap into open source for benefits like innovation, speed and cost control. CIOs need to develop and implement strategies for taking advantage of open source capabilities within their organizations.

According to Derek, “Open allows you to move faster with a greater degree of accountability and transparency, and that’s what open source is about, and that’s what ‘open for data’ is about.” Working with IBM means collaborating with a company that can help you capture the speed of open.

Integrating open source capabilities within the enterprise

The systems that organizations have been building for the last two decades weren’t really designed to handle open access and self-service, or to make analytics as ubiquitous as it needs to be today to actually drive new business models and make organizations more competitive. Today’s shift from products to platform is a function of deployment flexibility and a need to derive the most value from open source software.

IBM data and analytics capabilities are increasingly offered as integrated services, so that as data is moving through the platform or through the business, appropriate services can be invoked.  And component services are designed so they can fit with one another easily. You can easily move a workload into the next component of the platform as requirements change over time.

Next gen architecture

The world is shifting from products to platform, and the architecture is evolving so that it can better the meet the need for more open access.

The world that we’re coming from had data that was specific to the business, and did not capture data from sources outside the four walls of the business. Today, some of those external sources contain data that’s of value to the business.  And we’re making it our business to make it easy for clients to access the data they need and put it to good use. old architectures, it was very difficult to get a collaboration across the organization. Now individuals in different roles—from application developers to data engineers to data scientists to business analysts—can collaborate on new solutions and deploy them at scale, with built-in governance.  A collaborative approach not only provides flexibility but also helps clarify where the data is going and why. “That is, the rationale I think why this market is shifting to a platform approach instead of product-by-product,“ says Derek.

Why is integration so critical? With so much data and so many people involved, getting a clear picture on which to base decisions and predictions is critical to the organization. As Derek explains, “The CIOs of this world are in a position to really radically change culture in their businesses.”

Putting the insight to work

Data is fueling the transformation of businesses and industries, and we have an abundance of data, but that’s not the big challenge. The challenge is simplifying data and making it accessible to all. To unlock the value of data, everyone on the team should be accessing, using, interrogating and sharing it.

As data moves through our organizations and as we absorb it from outside our four walls, it can have a big impact if we integrate it and then actually make it a part of our day-to-day operations.

Derek concludes by saying, “The world we’re coming from was data in isolation. It was controlled and locked down. The next generation is about inverting that and really embracing data as something that pulses throughout your organization—it is everywhere. And you need to realize that, embrace it and then come up with a plan to fully tap into it.”

Derek is right: It is an exciting time to be a CIO. With open source innovations, you can innovate faster and not be confined to the skills within your own organization. Your team can collaborate with the best in the business and break down the walls of traditional development. Today, it’s less about the technology and tools and more about how you put data to work for you in your business—to disrupt, to inform to discover.

The world is shifting from products to platforms and within that platform offers an opportunity to open up access not just to data your organization has but also external sources.  

That’s what being open for data is all about—taking data out of isolation and putting it to work for your business!

Don't miss our previous episode with IBM's CIO Jeff Smith, and be sure to register for World of Watson, your new home for putting data to work.