KUALA LUMPUR, 2 May 2015 (Sat): In today’s society, all kinds of data, structured and unstructured, pour into organizations from a wide spectrum of sources, in colossal quantities and at high velocity, generated by modern-day business applications. Traditional database tools are finding it difficult to make sense of or manage these complex data, also known as Big Data. However, Big Data is only the first step in the digital transformation of business. In addition, perception gaps are found between non-IT business decision-makers and IT leaders. Therefore, many organizations are not able to “compete on code”, which is the development required to drive the most significant transformation of business.
Gunning for “Thick Data”
What organizations should gun for after Big Data, is Thick Data. Big Data reveals insights with a particular range of data points, while Thick Data takes one step further and uncovers the meaning and insights behind Big Data visualization and analysis, revealing the social context of and connections between data points. Leveraging human brain power instead of computational power, Thick Data reveals the social context of and connections between Big Data’s data points. Unlike Big Data, making meaning of Thick Data results in useful insights—quality beats quantity. To put it simply, Big Data delivers numbers while Thick Data delivers stories, relying largely on human learnings. Organizations need stories in order to build stronger ties with stakeholders, stories that contain emotions, which no normalized dataset can offer.
The data that accumulates around people, devices and organizations—Code Halos—is robust, powerful and continually growing in richness and complexity. Organizations need to tame and make sense of this first to extract qualitative and contextual insights before they are able to make informed decisions. Essentially, organizations can charter into new and unknown territories, map analysis and relate with the emotional or even visceral context in which people encounter a product or service in order to adapt when circumstances change.
Breaking down the business-IT divide
A recent study revealed a disparity between what business leaders want from IT and what CIOs believe they are providing. Fifty-four percent of business leaders see the IT group as an obstacle to getting work done, while just one-third of CIOs felt the same way.
The next step is to erase or break down the walls of the business-IT divide that has confounded enterprises since the emergence of electronic data processing. In order for digital business transformation to become a reality via competing on code, organizations need to have a Code Halo-informed game plan that assumes a tight alignment and convergence of the business and IT strategies.
For instance, Marriot Corporation, which was presented the prestigious “Enterprise Value” award by CIO Magazine several years ago, utilized customer code to enhance the design and implementation of its algorithms for customer affinity and room rate optimization, which helped the company continuously strengthen its bottom line. Investing time and budget on understanding user interfaces, applications and data on a deeper level has funded innovation over infrastructure. Hence, organizations are able to understand the context of collected data, along with relevant stakeholders’ Code Halos, and outperform others that do not, boosting competitive advantage.
Driving the Code Halo revolution
At its core, business is all about making bets on human behavior—the question why a customer or employee behaves one way rather than another, then finds answers by examining connections among personal, organizational and device Code Halos, and subsequently further embeds IT into functional business areas.
Organizations are changing the way businesses view and leverage IT. The Code Halo revolution is an uprising that will disrupt businesses for years to come; it is all about digital information-led business changes. With IT being at the vanguard of technology and data-powered transformation, the CIOs are best positioned to direct organizations towards it. Being steeped in information architecture and data analysis, CIOs are empowered to inform and lead the end-to-end digital business makeover.
CIOs need to think further and beyond collecting and accumulating data—they need to restructure and re-skill their teams to connect the digital dots spawned by people, process, organization and device Code Halos. Then, they need to equip business with solid information architects and deep-thinking business analysts who can, in turn, detect the patterns contained in rich data mosaics and predict the direction of market, business drivers and customer sentiment. In the near future, CIOs who are able to see the “why” of data will ultimately become Code Halos heroes of their organizations.
Contributed by Jayajyoti Sengupta, Vice President and Regional Head – ASEAN and Greater China, Cognizant