Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Manish Sood, founder and CTO at Reltio.
There’s no doubt IT and data teams are key enablers of corporate success, but their costs frequently get scrutinized by revenue-generating and budget-monitoring business units.
Let’s face it: it’s expensive to build technology teams and innovations.
Statista estimates U.S. private and public sector spending on information and business technologies reached nearly $2 trillion last year, and Gartner predicts global IT spending will total $4.5 trillion this year.
Still, that’s all changing. IT is evolving from a cost center into a profit center.
Techvera notes businesses spend only 3.2% to 6.9% of revenue on IT, percentages that fall as companies grow.
Moreover, as new technologies emerge to enhance business capabilities and inform strategies, IT departments are expanding from siloed technical teams to become strategic partners driving revenue and other business goals.
One key to driving revenue is by better managing data, using tools like master data management.
As IT’s role evolves, changing power dynamics require organizations to redefine best practices for collaboration with IT experts, and change other teams’ processes and mindsets.
The pandemic accelerated this shift by forcing a nearly overnight digital transformation to remote work, significantly increasing IT leader burnout while creating feelings of isolation and non-cohesion across all workers.
APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey notes that nearly 60% of employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, with significant numbers disclosing cognitive weariness (36%), emotional exhaustion (32%), and physical fatigue (44%), up markedly from 2019.
Many of these issues disproportionately impacted IT workers, who were responsible for rushing and managing enhanced digital infrastructures.
Data management is now imperative
Given workforce and IT team challenges, senior leadership must actively encourage cross-team cooperation and collaboration to improve business results. Top management must participate in everything from strategic planning to day-to-day operations, and IT expertise is needed in the C-suite.
However, that’s not always happening today at large companies.
Chief data officers (CDOs) are hired to sit at the intersection of all business units, creating, improving and analyzing data to improve overall work product and environment quality. Still, not all big companies have adopted CDO positions. NewVantage Partners reported that just 65% of Fortune 1000 companies had appointed CDOs as of last year.
Similarly, today’s CIOs need more than just an understanding of how tech keeps an organization humming; they must have strategic skills and a business mindset to influence and shape enterprise data strategy.
Data has become most organizations’ most important asset, so understanding how technology unlocks the value of data and delivers ROI is crucial to the CIO role, as is understanding the evolving modern data landscape.
Under the C-suite, data managers are responsible for ensuring organizations have clean, connected, high-quality data that delivers on business outcomes and generates a return on investment.
Today’s data managers must also understand data science, data as an API, and SaaS cloud infrastructure’s role in business analytics.
Traditionally, data managers worked in IT departments, supporting the whole business. However, as operations have become critical to every business function, including sales, marketing and finance, data managers are increasingly being integrated within operations teams to leverage data as an ongoing, strategic asset for achieving business goals and operations.
In addition to understanding data and information services, today’s data managers need strategic business acumen and analytic skills that transcend the IT department, aligning across the entire organization. They must partner with C-level leadership and non-technical teams, enabling companies to fully realize data’s modern business value.
Elevating data and technology leaders
Going forward, executive teams must include their technology experts in business discussions and incorporate emerging and improved technologies into business goals.
To fully achieve these goals, an organization’s business and technology leads should establish a regular meeting cadence to create new revenue-driving tech innovations and use technology to reduce data-related expenses and liabilities.
Organizations should also consider several proactive steps to keep ahead of the data management curve, including:
- Requiring all senior leaders have either training or experience in both technology and business
- Establishing mandatory monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings for teams to provide recaps of specific technology impacts on business outcomes, either positive or negative, and assess whether to continue moving forward based on outcomes and projected potential value over time.
- Elevating or increasing stakeholder support for a CDO in the C-suite at companies where this hasn’t happened already
Companies supported by strong C-suite IT and data leaders will accelerate achievement across multiple metrics, ranging from business goals to driving industry innovation. Improving collaboration between technology and business teams enables companies to spot sales opportunities, secure wins, and enhance customer experiences.
Then, as overall data quality, relevance, and management improve, data will go beyond driving business to boost employee morale, reducing friction between teams.
Data – and data leaders – are the key to future success and greater profits.