Data: The CIO's Most Underutilized Asset - InformationWeek
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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
6/16/2008
07:34 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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Data: The CIO's Most Underutilized Asset

In my recent feature story, "Tomorrow's CIO," one interesting fact that emerged from the original research we did for the piece concerned the use of data: Corporate managers see leveraging their organizations' data assets as one of the CIO's most important opportunities. So why don't more CIOs see it that way?

In my recent feature story, "Tomorrow's CIO," one interesting fact that emerged from the original research we did for the piece concerned the use of data: Corporate managers see leveraging their organizations' data assets as one of the CIO's most important opportunities. So why don't more CIOs see it that way?In the feature story, Dan Drawbaugh, CIO of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, made the point that today's sophisticated IT systems offer "more of an integrated data view of everything," which puts the CIO in a position to drive new business processes and business models. "If you have the intelligence to act on this data, you [can] differentiate your products and services from your competitors'," Drawbaugh says.

Intelligence is the operative word. It's not for nothing that business intelligence scores very high on the list of priorities for most organizations. It's one of three innovation initiatives tasked to the IT department at consumer products maker Procter & Gamble, as spelled out in the feature story.

It's a troubling fact that many CIOs ignore their potential to drive the data agenda. And I'm not the only interested party to notice this. A comment on the feature article contains this pronouncement:

I have yet to see or even hear of a CIO primarily concerned with getting more out of the enterprise's INFORMATION. Most organizations in the world today (CIO or none) have bundled up data, application, and process into independent stovepipes. The same data is entered, re-entered throughout the enterprise for each major department or office. No one can see across the whole Enterprise on very basic issues.

That's supposed to be the job of the CIO. If it's not, it certainly represents an opportunity for CIOs to take a more strategic role at their organizations.

I don't agree that there are no CIOs dealing with data integration, interoperability, and business intelligence issues. UPMC's Drawbaugh, for one, is wrestling with the issue of electronic health records, one of the thorniest integration and interoperability problems out there. He knows that if he can get it right, it will not only be a competitive advantage for his organization, but a benefit to the health care industry in general.

More CIOs need to take that opportunistic view of corporate data. It will pay dividends for their organizations -- and themselves -- in the long run.

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