Big Data is the Big Daddy of Priorities for Midmarket CIOs
June 13, 2011 Jenny Thomas
“Go Big or Go Home” is fast-becoming the new battle cry heard from midmarket IT departments around the globe. The demand by companies for better analytics, i.e., the ability to extract actionable insights from “Big Data,” was cited as the number one priority in a recent survey of midmarket chief information officers (CIOs) by IBM.
Midsize businesses, together with small enterprises, are responsible for nearly 65 percent of the global GDP, representing more than 90 percent of all businesses and employing over 90 percent of the world’s workforce, so their desire for better analytics isn’t all that surprising. Like their peers in larger companies, midmarket CIOs are facing an increasingly complex business environment where traditional structured data mixes with the new unstructured flow of data coming in the form of videos, blogs, and tweets through the social Web, creating a tangled, unintelligible mess. Finding a way to harness all that data is key to gaining insight on and expanding relationships with customers and partners, which would obviously take a high precedence on the job list for midmarket CIOs.
“As the economy recovers and CIOs look more to driving transformation in their companies, their role is evolving to become more and more associated with extracting value from technology and gaining insight from complex systems,” said Ed Abrams, vice president of marketing for IBM’s global midmarket business.
To get a better picture of what’s going on in the IT shops at midsize companies IBM conducted one-hour, in-person discussions with over 3,000 CIOs from 622 organizations representing both growth and mature markets in multiple industries. The study also looked at what constitutes the fundamental tasks of the CIO as they infuse technology into products, services, and processes to gain control of the influx of data. The hot topic in those interviews was business analytics, which was clearly identified as the number one strategic technology investment at midsize organizations over the next five years. The other key topic in those same conversations was cloud computing, which emerged as the fastest growing technology area for CIOs.
Of the midmarket CIOs surveyed, 83 percent identified analytics as their top-priority investment area.
The survey found that 72 percent of CIOs at midsize organizations are focused on integrating business and technology to drive innovation. In the next five years, those CIOs cited gaining deeper insight and intelligence (77 percent), people skills (68 percent), and client intimacy (67 percent) as topping their priority lists.
The surveyed CIOs said they are using or intend to use the following tools and methods to turn data into actionable information: data warehousing (64 percent), visual dashboards (64 percent), master data management (63 percent), and client analytics (63 percent).
The technology area that has shown the most growth for CIOs in the midmarket in the past two years is cloud computing. In fact, according to the survey, CIOs are now 50 percent more likely to pursue investments in cloud computing over the next three to five years to take advantage of the flexibility and cost effectiveness of using hardware and software resources offered through the cloud. (That growth was reckoned against data from IBM’s 2009 midmarket CIO study.)
The explosive growth of Internet-connected devices and smart phones is also driving CIOs to consider more powerful ways to harness mobile applications that drive commerce, better collaboration, and enhanced workforce mobility. According to the study, the percentage of CIOs who now plan to invest in mobility solutions, including smart phones and mobile applications, jumped by 11 percent over 2009, to 72 percent.
The IBM Global CIO Study: The Essential CIO, also highlights a number of recommendations, including strategic business actions. A PDF of the study is available here.