Sunday, October 26, 2014

Big-Data Savvy Board

Businesses of all sizes shall re-frame the big data conversation with stakeholders in the boardroom.
The Big Data concept is still at emerging stage, the members of the board are just now getting their feet wet, sweating out the risks of getting hacked. Big data conversation is a little ways off for members of the board, but it will eventually get noticed. Board members are not so getting use to thinking outside the box. Big Data is shaping a bigger box beyond the traditional management and governance practices.  

 Big Data should be a boardroom topic, because of its potential to uncover business insight. However, it is the means to the end, not the end itself. The BoD may not be interested in data itself, but surely they would be interested in the fifth 'V': the VALUE it can bring to the table. The  point is that the term itself doesn't say anything, before you know, it becomes an IT toy, or a marketing 'holy grail', or the misleading answer of all the problems. It should be strategic, be used for competitive advantage, be concrete measurable to KPIs as quality, less cost, higher margin, increased revenue, etc.

Boards oversight strategy, asset, risk, talent, etc managements in which Big Data can make differences. There has been too much technical hype and not enough oversight messages conveying the Big Data benefits and how you would use it. The industry study shows the right Big Data-Advanced Analytics approach for asset management, risk management, talent management or customer experience management. For example, the value-added data analytics solution can support machine2machine, proactive maintenance, capacity planning, spare part management, it could double ROCE (Return on Capital Employed)/ROA (Return on Assets).

Show BoD the “right” things -Show them the money. Show them the metrics. Show them the KPIs. Show them the scientific proof. Quit the marketing hype. The boards will not understand what Big Data is and they don't need to know. They just need to hear that you can reduce costs, increase revenue, reduce risks etc. The "HOW" is not as important as “WHY” and “WHAT” to an executives so long as you can convince them that your plan is likely to succeed and is cost effective compared to their weighted cost of capital.

 BoD and senior leadership sponsorship is crucial for Big Data success. Big Data can overcome silo culture friction and achieve better performance result. As most big businesses have a silo approach to IT, marketing, finance etc, it will come down to having visionary BoDs and senior executive team who understand the benefits and be brave enough to drive through major cultural and operational change in their organization. The end points /outputs of Big Data analysis cover a very broad spectrum of business problems across an organization, so no one really knows who should own "it". It is not a panacea, but it can solve many critical problems by managing data and information life cycle holistically, and it can achieve better business value via cross-functional collaboration.

A Big Data savvy Board is not about making the Board fashionable or hyper up to chase the buzzwords, it is about having such sense and sensitivity for board to perceive the opportunity and risk the Big Data can bring to the business, understand it from strategic lens and oversee it from governance point of view. It can shape a more strategic and learning board to lead digital transformation more confidently and radically.


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