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C4 CIO Insider: Focusing on Data Management

The Canadian Channel Chief Council’s July CIO Insider featured two esteemed tech leaders within the CIO Association of Canada: Rita Lazar-Tippe, and Raj Thukral. Lazar-Tippe has over 15 years of experience as a Digital Transformation Executive, was named the 2021 CIO of the Year, and was recently honored with the CIO Association of Canada President’s Impact Award recipient for 2022. Thukral is the Chief Technology Officer at APX Data.

Hosted by Corinne Sharp, President of C4 and CRO of Shinydocs, the topic for this conversation was all about data, and data management. 

The impact of rapidly growing data 

Companies are drowning in information, data, files, and content. IDC states that data is growing at 63 percent month over month. The question is, where is it all going? Storage costs are also rising monthly, including management and monitoring.

Depending on the maturity of an organization, they have been at this challenge for a long time, yet we are seeing little change as it relates to how we are solving the data challenges organizations are facing. Based on many discussions with CIO’s and information leaders, simply demanding more from our users is not going to work. 

The responsibility of the CIO

The discussion opened with an exploration of the role and responsibilities of CIOs in regard to controlling data sprawl, and the spread of documents, files, and information across organizations. Both Lazar-Tippe and Thukral were in agreement that, while it is important for CIOs to inform and educate their companies on risk implications and the like, this is not a responsibility that CIOs can tackle alone. Data management is, in fact, an organizational asset that needs to be viewed as such.

To gain buy in, Lazar-Tippe suggested that executive awareness and visibility of information management needs to be brought forward, by perhaps creating a risk register with ongoing progress updates and the associated business implications. Thukral added that organizations are likely losing a lot of business by having a lot of data that isn’t accessible and is therefore not influencing decisions at a high level. In other words, not having your data organized, or not having a solid information management approach, can be detrimental to the growth and success of your business. 

Digital transformation vs information management strategies

With the growing prevalence of cloud technology used for workloads and applications, it’s crucial to integrate an information management strategy in order to categorize and utilize the data in business strategies. As Thukral notes, there’s no point in digital transformation if you’re not gathering the data to gain business insights and show ROI. Data should be used to drive further efficiencies and contribute to business value. 

Agreeing and adding to this point, Lazar-Tippe stressed the importance of an information management strategy to ensure data is governed and of good quality. Making the data consumable for stakeholders to understand how you are driving value is essential and having a strategy that both provides quick results and progress is what will continue to drive digital transformation forward. 

As our discussion of data management developed, a set of important questions arose: why is data sprawl happening in organizations, what is enabling the sprawl, and why is data being placed in multiple places where there are no policies  regarding where data is held? 

Getting organizational buy in

Although organizations have asked employees to adhere to records management guidance, in many organizations the volume of data is outpacing the ability to manage it. We asked our tech leaders what are the CIOs number one priority as it relates to data security and privacy, and how do we make our technology easier for users while still protecting the company? 

Lazar-Tippe noted that change management starts with the people – if people are not adopting processes, it’s for naught. As such, a critical component is making sure the why is in place, to make sure people know why they are doing something, and how it impacts them directly. For example, having a risk register (as mentioned prior), taking stock of where data expansion is taking place, and posing the question of “what would happen if a security breach happens within our organization?” will work to gain buy in from stakeholders. Having the right structure in place will contribute largely to the success of change management. 

One of the key things, Thukral added, is looking at change management and the way we are adopting technology; as most projects fail because of improper change management specifically, and not because of the technology itself. While most early technology is based on simply replacing the paper forms, next gen technology is taking processes and making things easier and more intuitive for users, rather than replicating and replacing processes already in place. The ability to adopt and implement these changes are crucial to manage data sprawl. 

The final thought from our speakers was focused on partnerships that CIO’s are looking for from their technology partners. Both expressed the need for partners to understand the business needs and bring best practices to the table. They would love for vendors and the partner ecosystem to take a holistic view of the needs of the customer to solve business problems and not just sell point solutions transactionally.

Watch the full video here.