Companies across industries are placing major bets on big data, expecting it could dramatically improve business processes and overall performance. As they move ahead, one issue that looms large is finding senior-leadership capacity to manage the huge program of organizational change that data analytics demands. Top-team members, fully engaged with their existing responsibilities, often find themselves straining to plan and implement big data strategies.

Senior IT leaders not only are well equipped to lead and shape these activities but also have a huge part to play in accelerating change across the enterprise. To lead this transformation, CIOs must reimagine their role, seeing themselves—and encouraging others to see them—as chief executives of an information business. Like any chief executive, the CIO should bring vision, direction, and organization to the company’s big data investment priorities. That means engaging internal customers on their biggest challenges while attracting the best talent and suppliers; most important, it means being accountable for execution and results. The CIO’s mission encompasses both internal demand (raising the sophistication of analytics among businesses and functions trying to capture evermore value) and supply (spanning technology infrastructure, data, analytics expertise, and intuitive tools to match rising demand). To help companies raise their game on how they use data and analytics for competitive advantage, CIOs should master four critical roles:

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