Meet the oldest data custodian: The CIO

At Eveready, Arup Choudhury has been shouldering this responsibility since they built the first data warehouse in 2002

Meet the oldest data custodian: The CIO - CIO&Leader

“Traditionally, the responsibility of handling and managing data has remained with the CIO, and therefore, instead of defining new roles, organizations are comfortable assigning the data analytics responsibility to the CIO,” says Arup Roy, research director at Gartner. 

Such is the case at Eveready Industries where IT is the sole custodian of data and analytics. Its CIO, Arup Choudhury, has been shouldering this responsibility since they built the first data warehouse in 2002. According to him, one of the most important things for being able to fit into the data analytics role is to understand the business and the surrounding environment. Secondly, the CIO should spend some time understanding what these data points are and plan the capture points accordingly. And finally, the CIO needs to know what to analyze and take into account the different scenarios and statistical models based on industry requirements. “Choose an analytical tool, keeping your organization, people and scalability in mind,” he says. Choudhury deployed a data and analytics solution for the sales team about a year ago.

There were a number of challenges. 

The quality of data was a bottleneck considering multiple sources were involved. Cleaning and filtering of data was the second imperative. In India, most analytics implementations are utilized only 30% due to lack of clarity. But not in the case of Eveready Industry. The company, as a result of the deployment, has been able to achieve an ROI of over 500% and gain valuable insights that have helped them significantly boost sales and improve efficiency in supply chain management. 

Cover Story: Whose data is it anyway?

Additionally, Eveready has been able to drastically speed up decision making, achieve growth in sales volume, and mine existing data for valuable business insights. One of the important learnings from the implementation of data analytics solution that Eveready gained was that it cannot be enforced upon its employees. "There is always a bypass in the form of MS Excel. Hence, end users must be educated and show significant value that they can derive from using the solution on a regular basis," says Choudhury. 

For a CIO to single-handedly manage data and analytics in an organization wasn’t easy. Choudhury says it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his team. That, and proper planning helped him divide his time between different roles in the organization, and prioritize, based on business requirements. “The business users will not be able to give you all the requirements. They don’t really know what to analyze unless you can provide them some kind of a working model. You need to be proactive in determining the potential of your data warehouse, and build a robust one, before playing around with the presentation layer,” Choudhury advises.

With the help of data and analytics solution, Choudhury has introduced data-driven practices in Eveready. As a result, it has helped the company reduce their dependency on people. Like Choudhury, Jayantha Prabhu, CIO, also leads the data and analytics practice at Essar Group. “Changing technological market aspires leading CIOs to take a more expansive view of their role.” says Prabhu.

Due to the advent of the data revolution along with concepts, such as Big Data, Open Data, and Data Infrastructures --paradigm for technology and the CIO is quickly changing. The value of data is now being discussed regularly at all levels of every organization. In a recent survey of 951 U.S.-based CIOs in a range of industries, 39% cited business intelligence and analytics as the top area of enterprise focus and investment. In India, according to NASSCOM, the big data analytics sector is expected to witness eightfold growth to reach USD16 billion by 2025 from the current level of USD2 billion–which clearly means more work for the CIO. Prabhu approves.“CIOs must also develop new analytical skills so that they can explicate to business of how the data can improve the business. For CIOs who take an early leadership role in analytics governance, will further demonstrate their own value and help invent their organizations’ future,” says Prabhu.

The digital technologies are putting pressure on IT organizations and CIOs have to manage it through strategy innovation and revenue growth by building and integrating a cost-effective information system. Identifying the right technology to suit individual verticals and building the right domain knowledge team is extremely important for CIOs. The IT sector currently employs over 90,000 people in various data analytics roles; the big data analytics segment would require huge manpower over next five years, according to NASSCOM. 

“Data analytics is a place where a CIO can drive better business and IT alignment. Asking right analytical questions serves as a forcing function for better system design and for ensuring that systems better meet business objectives,” Prabhu advises.

One thing is for sure: a few leaders have started building their organizations around data and are gaining from it. 

 


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