9 years ago

Tips for CIOs: How to ask funding for your big data projects?

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Make it apparent that the new big data investment is a joint project of IT and business.

Chief information officers (CIOs) have always found it difficult to ask for additional budget that would pay for new or additional IT infrastructure. It is probably a problem that most executives and managers face: how to ask for funding. And now that big data is being widely discussed in board rooms, either because the company is planning to adopt some sort of big data strategy or trying to optimize current strategies, CIOs are often put in the position of asking for big data funding.

The problem may lie in the fact that most CIOs focus on justifying the costs. They talk about how the company needs to collect data from various sources and then launch into how much it would cost. Or they may talk about how various departments are asking for big data related projects and then again detail about the costs. Most of the time focusing on the costs would end up in failing to get that green light for more funding.

What you could do is to focus on the benefits, instead on focusing on the costs. Tell the members of the executive committee about how gathering more data from different sources could lead to better insights that could help different business heads learn more about the operations, customers and other important aspects of your business. Or how the investment would pay for itself through different outcomes.

As you can see, the difference between justifying investment by focusing on the benefits and justifying costs, is that the latter talks about purchasing the big data infrastructure that you need. While the former talks about how you are going to use that technology to help solve an issue or a problem at work.

When you focus on costs, other members of the executive committee will see just that: the costs. The plain truth is that most people would be more interested in knowing how to solve problems rather than how to spend money.

If you find yourself focusing on costs rather than benefits, then don’t worry, you are not alone. Historically, discussions about IT budgets tend to focus on the large costs of acquiring large systems that solved different problems in the business. Thankfully, that is no longer the case now when you can acquire specific technologies and specific tools to solve a specific business problem.

Investing in big data and data analytics no longer require big upfront investments, so it would do you well to also change the way you ask for big data funding.

What are the tips to make you more successful in asking for funding?

  1. Make it apparent that the new big data investment is a joint project of IT and business by partnering up with a business head, for instance the CFO or the marketing manager. Be sure to emphasize that the big data project is a high value solution that solves problems for the company and that the costs are just a necessary part of that.
  1. Highlight analytics that help set your organization above the rest. What are the new kinds of data, or what are the new insights that you expect to see from the new big data platforms you are planning to acquire.
  1. Go for a proof of concept, not specific cases. You may want to come up with a proof of concept that would show just how the new technology would be able to demonstrate value not just to a specific case but to other cases as well. This will help other people to see more uses and value for your investment.

Four Cornerstone provides Oracle consulting in Dallas. Call us if you need help on how to create an interesting value proposition for your big data initiatives.

Photo by Christoph Scholz.

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