Sometime around 1850, Jacob Waltz found a gold mine in the southwestern United States. He didn’t tell anyone where it was. No one knows for sure if Waltz actually found a gold mine. Nevertheless, many people have tried to find the gold mine to this day. Just like prospectors who wanted gold for success, CIOs can leverage their enterprise’s data more effectively to create greater value for their organizations.
Competitive advantage from technology usually accrues to the first to leverage it. Upon seeing some impressive early successes of using big data to help the business in other organizations, many CIOs are considering their own journey to use data science. Like finding a lost gold mine, it can seem an elusive undertaking, but I will provide an approach to get started. I guarantee you’ll have a much easier time using data science to solve pressing problems than finding Waltz’s lost mine, but the payoff will be as good or better.
At SAIC, we define data science as the discipline of managing, organizing, and extracting actionable insights from data to derive value for mission success. While there are many approaches to establish a data science program, I recommend an incremental approach to enable your organization to be progressively data driven.
In an ideal world, the CIO can build the foundation for data science culture by starting with a strategic plan. But most CIOs live far from an ideal world, so they need an approach that lets them try out data science and in so doing solve a pressing problem. Once a few successes have happened, creating a strategic plan will make it easier to repeat those successes. Start with an easily defined business problem that is obviously dependent on data and isn’t overly complex.
First, drive a shift in how the stakeholders of the chosen business problem view data.