The data-driven enterprise demands a new kind of c-suite collaboration

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The data-driven enterprise demands a new kind of c-suite collaboration


Organizations across many industries are driving growth and business performance with data and analytics. The more companies characterize themselves as data-driven, the better they perform on objective measures of financial and operational results.

That’s not just big data hype; it was the finding of a 2012 study conducted by a team at the MIT Center for Digital Business in partnership with McKinsey & Co. Structured interviews with executives at 330 public North American companies—combined with performance data from their annual reports and independent sources—found that companies in the top third of their industry in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average, 5 percent more productive and 6 percent more profitable than their competitors. This performance difference remained robust after accounting for the contributions of labor, capital, purchased services, and traditional IT investment and was reflected in measurable increases in stock market valuations.1

CIOs are not only leading the drive toward better data-driven business decisions; they’re also instrumental in accelerating change across the entire enterprise. Effective data-driven decisions require all available data collected from all business leaders and from all parts of the organization.

Thus, partnering across the c-suite to drive growth is a key imperative for senior IT leaders and critical to enhancing business outcomes. Organizations in which the CIO has a strong working relationship with the CEO are 40 percent more likely to excel.2 And when the CIO and the CMO work closely together, the difference is even more pronounced at 56 percent.3 Working with c-suite peers is critical to ensuring secure and seamless digital engagement with customers, drawing better insights from available data and prioritizing technology investments.

As stewards of many data resources, and with all their relationships across the business, CIOs are in the best position to bring vision, direction and organization to their company’s big data investments. They must develop processes to balance demand and supply, ensure data quality, facilitate dialogue on risk management and the costs associated with serving each customer. To effectively use data and analytics efforts across the organization, CIOs must engage their c-suite colleagues on their biggest challenges while being accountable for execution and results.

Here are some keys to collaborating across the c-suite to foster a culture of analytics:

• Listen closely to your peers to clearly identify the business imperatives that will bring technology-powered business objectives to the table at an early stage in strategic discussions.
• Identify key areas for data analysis and technology requirements for evolving data enabled business opportunities.
• Translate the goals, aspirations, and challenges of your stakeholders into specific programs that deliver results back to the business.


We invite you to continue the conversation and hear what other CXOs are saying. You can access interactive content and listen to CXOs in their own words by downloading the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) app for Android or iPad.


1“Big Data: The Management Revolution,” Harvard Business Review, October 2012.

2Moving from the Back Office to the Front Lines, IBM Institute for Business Value, 2014.


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