Treating Information as an Asset

Information warrants its own strategy to ensure its economic benefits are fully maximized.

The emergence of chief data officers (CDOs) in many organizations and across industries indicates a growing recognition of information as a strategic business asset – one distinguished from the technology through which it flows. In fact, by 2020, Gartner predicts that 10 percent of organizations will have a highly profitable business unit specifically for productizing and commercializing their information assets.

According to Douglas Laney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, to achieve direct monetization of data requires supplementing your existing business model. This implies creating a team with a specific job of defining, developing and productizing the market for the information asset, similar to the product development life cycle established for managing and marketing traditional products.

In most organizations CDOs will participate in, if not lead, data monetization efforts as a way to demonstrate their own value. However, the CDO’s path will not always be an easy one. Although Gartner expects 90 percent of large organizations to have hired a CDO by 2019; it estimates that, of these, only 50 percent will be hailed a success.

Because this role and its functions are new in most organizations, the majority of these data leaders are learning on the job. Their first task is to create an information strategy that both mitigates risks and improves business outcomes. The most difficult issue for many CDOs is creating relevant metrics that tie the activities of information management to key business drivers. While monetization of data is a relatively straightforward way to demonstrate value, determining which data assets can be monetized, and how, is not an easy task.

Although stakeholders are demanding better availability and quality of information, they are often unsure as to the exact mechanics of making that happen. When information-related initiatives falter, business users are apt to hastily blame IT, and now the CDO’s office as well.

The position that the CDO holds is a difficult one—balancing the needs of the business and capabilities of IT. Many newly appointed CDOs come from the business and are meeting change resistance, particularly from the IT department over the management and governance of information assets.

One way in which CDOs can garner support is by recognizing the value of Internet of Things (IoT) projects and approaching them with the same rigorous business requirements, architectural standards and governance that are applied to traditional information management projects.

“Capabilities inherent within the IoT hold out the promise of transforming business models through increased efficiencies and business model risk reduction to degrees previously unimaginable within value chains dependent on machine technology,” said Michael Moran, research director at Gartner. “These capabilities will serve as the catalyst to directly address levels of uncertainty intrinsic to business models based on guaranteed levels of performance.”

Mr. Moran said that high fidelity mastering of IoT data objects will serve as a key enabler in the transformation of business models from “guaranteed levels of performance” to “guaranteed outcomes.” By 2020, the IoT and digital business will drive requirements in 25 percent of new information governance and master data management (MDM) implementations.

Gartner clients can get more information in the report “Predicts 2016: Information Strategy”.

 Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis on information strategy at the Gartner Enterprise Information & Master Data Management Summits taking place in London, U.K. and Grapevine, Texas. You can follow news and updates from the events on Twitter using #GartnerEIM.