With the growing importance of enterprise data, big data, and the Internet of Things, the Indian CIO will be forced to wear the cap of the CDO as well. Though the Chief Digital Officer role is evolving as a separate responsibility in the US and other countries in the developed world, in India this is yet another acronym the CIO will have to add to his or her CV.
The digital market in India is predicted to double in size every two years and grow nine-fold between 2013 and 2020 -- from 326 exabytes to 2.8 zettabytes. What is driving the growth? There are multiple factors at work but one of the most significant is the continued consumer growth in Internet, smartphone, and social network use. Indian ISPs are aggressively pushing free and low-cost data plans to accelerate the mobile user installed base.
Another major factor is that the falling cost of technology for devices that create, capture, manage, protect, and store information is luring more users. The migration from analog to digital TV, with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) mandating a switchover by 2015, is contributing to the digital explosion. Add to these the growth of machine-to-machine communication, and information about information, and you get a high-definition picture of what is happening.
During the same period as the previous prediction, the global digital universe will grow from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes, says "The Digital Universe of Opportunities," a research study by IDC and EMC. According to the study, while 60 percent of the data in the digital universe is at present residing in mature markets like the US, Germany, and Japan, by 2017 the percentage will flip and emerging markets including India, Brazil, China, Mexico, and Russia will account for the majority of data.
"China already accounts for 14 percent of the digital universe. Though US' share has declined as the other emerging markets have grown, it is still 26 per cent. India's share is also growing from 3 per cent in 2010 to 6 per cent in 2020," EMC India and SAARC President Rajesh Janey told the media, as reported in The Financial Express.
The report illustrates this in a dramatic manner: If the Indian digital media is represented by the memory in a stack of tablets, in 2013 it would have stretched 3 percent of the way to the Moon. By 2020, it would stretch 42 percent of the way from the Earth to the Moon.
So what would CIOs be expected to do? As organizations turn into data-driven and software-defined enterprises, CIOs will face an online world on digital steroids. The report recognizes that while the challenges of a digital universe are certainly technological, they are first and foremost organizational. It goes on to suggest three business imperatives:
- Create a C-level position in charge of developing digital business opportunities. This may mean creating a new position like Chief Digital Officer or having the CIO double up as CDO. The most important thing is that the new executive role will take charge of identifying and pursuing new revenue streams based on internal and/or external data and its analysis.
- Develop and continuously revise an executive-team understanding of the new digital landscape for your enterprise. Who are the new (and potential) digital competitors? How are you going to cooperate with others in your industry to anticipate and thwart digital disruption? What are the short and long-term steps you must take to ensure a smooth and timely digital transformation?
- Design and execute a plan for accelerated investments in digital enterprise technologies and skills. For this, reallocate resources across the business based on digital transformation priorities, invest in promising data collection and analysis areas, and identify the gaps in talent and skills required for success in the era of the Third Platform.
Whenever there is a seachange in technology or the way in which technology is harnessed in enterprises, the CEOs in India tend to charge the CIO to take on fresh responsibilities and execute the changes seamlessly. After being swamped with big data, most organizations have realized the secret lies in targeting highest value information.
It is now the CIO in his role as CDO who should identify the "target-rich." Just follow the IDC mantra: The data should be easy to access, be available real-time, have a large footprint, or hold transformative potential. Of course, it can have more than one of these attributes.
So, dear CIOs, it is time to plan a governance policy, select the right software tools, and acquire the right skills and talent to unleash predictive analysis, business intelligence, and real-time decision making -- wouldn't you say? That is exactly what a CDO is expected to do!