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Andrew Maner, Managing Partner, IBM U.S. Federal, GBS

Andrew Maner,
Managing Partner, IBM U.S. Federal, GBS

By Andrew Maner

As IBM’s Center for the Business of Government recently discovered, government CIOs don’t want sole ownership of Big Data. The irony isn’t lost on me since CIO does stand for Chief Information Officer. But when you peel back the onion a bit, their position starts to make sense.U.S. Capitol Building

Big Data is a new frontier for the public sector and it’s being generated by everything around us – all the time. It’s arriving from multiple sources at high velocity, volume, and variety. As it grows, CIOs and government leaders are trying to understand how to extract value that improves the functions of government while simultaneously addressing privacy and security issues.

So why don’t more government CIO’s see the importance of having IT units own the Big Data projects? Big Data is proving to be a useful resource beyond the back office. Many front office roles are starting to get more hands-on in their use of data and, frankly, they have a better understanding of their own needs and opportunities for innovation.

The public sector CIOs feel Big Data projects are transformational and involve multiple departments and agencies. The IT unit of the agency doesn’t have the time and inertia to always bring together the various stakeholders. Their expertise is in networking computing systems together not bringing organizations together.

SP BOGHaving senior executives leading the push around Big Data seems to be an imperative according to the CIOs. It is absolutely essential for the senior executives of the agency – , the mayor, the governor, and other significant stakeholders – to be aware of a Big Data project and stay abreast of its progress.

These findings are part of a new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government called “Realizing the Promise of Big Data.” The report, another in a series on Big Data from the Center, draws on extensive interviews with CIOs at all levels – federal, state and local – to identify the key challenges and strategies they believe will unlock the potential for Big Data projects.

The full report outlines 10 key findings from CIOs and next steps public sector agencies can take to implement Big Data projects.

Here are a couple of other findings I found thought provoking:

  • Many CIOs fight the perception that Big Data is a passing fad. The report found that CIOs constantly have to fight the perception that Big Data is just a buzzword or a fad, spending significant efforts to educate their peer executives and agency heads about the value proposition for Big Data.
  • CIOs report a need to bolster their human capital, including their analytical capabilities. Despite limited budgets and resources, CIOs indicated that they were in midst of bolstering their human capital through hiring new staff and training existing staff to find value in their data.

Over the next few years, nearly all public agencies will be grappling with the issue of how to manage and integrate their data sources, build analytical capacities, and move toward a data-driven decision-making environment. This report shows that through the right planning and engagement, CIOs and government leaders can build the right foundations for success and deliver with Big Data.

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February 11, 2014
12:22 pm

An interesting outcome of this finding is that CIOs need to take a long look at the type of skills that they need in their organizations. Programers and coders may not be the core skill set of the new CIO.

Posted by: Maria-Paz Barrientos
February 10, 2014
5:16 pm

Andy – Great insights. Another finding from the report I want to highlight is that: Most CIOs are now primarily dealing with the issue of managing large volumes of data, integrating data across database systems, and building an analytical capacity to mine data.

That is basic plumbing vs. analytics initiatives leveraging the data. We found this at a large health insurance company – they spend 70% of their analytics spend on foundational activities like keeping the lights-on, moving, extracting, transforming and loading data from legacy systems and 30% on value add analytics initatives. I would assume many government agencies would compare to this. If we can help shift spend from foundation to value initiaives, signficant value can be created using big data while keeping the budget constant…

Posted by: Srinivas Attili
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