The Changing, and Challenging, Role of the C-Suite in Today’s Data-Driven World
By Larry Gentry, President and CEO, cStor
CXO’s have always faced the challenge of how much time do I spend executing today’s plans to ensure success today for our organization vs. how much time do I spend understanding where the world is going so I can plan for and ensure success for the future of our organization. While this dilemma is not new, the amount of data available to us, and the speed of change in which people are utilizing it, causes many of us to reassess how much time we spend on the future of the organization.
Many times, I have heard said that data is the new oil, the new gold. God knows it’s being created at an unbelievable rate. I know we are selling a lot of storage, both on-prem and in the cloud to store it. In fact, IDC has stated that more than 90% of all the data created since the beginning of humankind was created in the last two years. To ignore that fact, or to think that an annual or a three-year plan will continue to be enough, is not only foolish but dangerous to the long-term health of any company. Thus, what we see most companies struggling with is, “The data is there, but how do I use it – in real time or near real time – to improve my organization?”
So, why do we struggle with turning data into business decisions?
One of the biggest reasons existing companies struggle with all this data and how to monetize it is, well, they are already successful. While that sounds strange, it is the prior success and the processes that got them to their current level that get in their way of changing at the pace needed to embrace the next level that will be required by newer competitors. These newer competitors are data-driven, solving problems without the burden of their prior processes in a much quicker manner than their established competitors. To address this issue, we have seen companies assign or create new positions of Chief Data Officer whose sole goal is to champion the use of data to make faster and better decisions. It is important that they have a seat at the table equal to CFO, CIO and COO so they can impact the organization. We have also seen many organizations make the CTO responsible for managing infrastructure and software to meet organizational requirements, and change the role of the CIO to be focused on the data and impact it can have on the company.
One of the other issues we see companies struggle with is that the data is being created at the edge, but they have centralized data centers where the data is sent back to, analyzed, stored, backed up, etc., and then decide what they should do. All the while, this part of their process slows down the ability to analyze at the edge in real time and make those decisions that can affect the business, positively, today. This is one of the key areas where the cloud can help. Utilizing the cloud at the edge for compute can allow organizations to analyze the data at the edge in real time and make the decision that will be best for the company. Data can then be stored in the cloud or even brought back to data centers to be stored and protected if a company still desires to do so. We simply cannot survive or thrive with our old processes for analyzing data.
Every startup I have come across only thinks about how quickly we can get the data, how quickly can we analyze it and how quickly can we use that information to improve our business. They are not bogged down by any conventional thinking, systems or data center architectures.
For all of us in CXO roles, we will do well to think more like a startup; if not, we could be the next casualty of a data-driven society.