Manage Learn to apply best practices and optimize your operations.

Using metadata to leverage big data and foster business agility

Bill Miller joined chip maker Broadcom CIO in 2012. In part 1 of this SearchCIO Innovator video filmed at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass., Miller talked about the rewards and challenges of working at a company filled with engineers and the work he's doing with big data. Here, he expounds on the necessity of using metadata to leverage big data analysis, his IT hiring wish list for 2014, plus his strategy for fostering business agility.

What challenges are you facing with leveraging big data? At what point do the limitations of analytic tools and the infrastructure tools become the bottleneck?

Bill Miller: I think that what you have to do is you have to segment your data to some degree. The actual data that we store associated with any particular simulation run, may only be of interest to a couple of engineers working on that circuit. But the metadata, the larger picture of what our simulation profile around the globe in a year looks like, is very interesting to the VPs of engineering, and the product line heads, who want to know what all the resources required are to deliver a particular chip, or technology. So, if you can segment that data and use it for analytic purposes, you don't need to get that down to the lower layers of the data.

So part of it is figuring out how you segment that and what you put into BI and analytics tools and how you bring that to life for people that do the analysis.

Would you say that is a major focus for IT?

Miller: It's a big focus for us. We are very interested in improving our capability in business intelligence, and analytics, and understanding how to utilize that data to understand our business trends better going forward.

IT skills wish list

One of the things we're asking CIO's is, what sort of IT skills are you looking to hire over the next couple of years, and why do you need them?

You just never can have enough alignment and dialogue with the business. I think that's the only insurance policy.

Miller: A couple of areas that I am particularly interested in: One we talked about are the business analysts, the BI-type of skills to be able to go in and mine large databases. We're looking for those skills.

We're also looking for project management skills, which is really interesting in IT. We've started up, since I've gotten here, a project management office, a PMO. It's a little bit more sophisticated than anything we've had before. We have a global workforce. We talked about that large number of engineers that sit in many locations around the globe, and they have to participate in projects to bring silicon to life.

My teams need to be able to work with them, coach, and help deliver these efforts. That requires a higher degree of acumen in project methodologies and project management. So I'm looking to introduce -- to move from a pure technical framework that we've had as a startup to more managerial skills in the PMO.

And are you using any platform to help you do that?

Miller: We are in the process of looking at several platforms. We have some of our own self-developed tools, and they'll probably migrate eventually to portfolio management tools. So they'll really allow us to look at these projects across the full spectrum.

The theme of this year's conference is "Architecting the enterprise for the future." How do CIOs, how do you, architect the future when the future is changing constantly and so rapidly?

Miller: A couple of ways I would look at that. One is you want to empower your employee base. So, we just talked about business intelligence and analytics tools. If IT departments can provide great tools to provide insight today and then get out of the way, they're doing a great service, because the IT department cannot fit between users and information. They have to provide tools so users can nimbly and agilely access the data they need to, when they need to and look at it in ways they want to. So, I think that's very important for IT departments going forward and that produces agility. The architectures that will deliver that will be the ones that are successful.

A clear view of the business agility horizon

What's the biggest risk facing your business in the coming year? How is IT going to help mitigate it?

More SearchCIO Innovator videos from MIT/Sloan CIO event

Liberty Mutual CIO talks business value and agility

HMS CIO: A plan to get value out of big data

MIT Sloan names Scott Blanchette 2013 CIO winner

Miller: I think our biggest risk is just staying agile and nimble -- and making sure that as requirements change in the business, as engineers start to need new tools and new capabilities, that we're there right along with them. So, strategy, planning, a constant embedded relation with those departments is so important to see that horizon coming, so we can be ahead of the game.

You just never can have enough alignment and dialogue with the business. I think that's the only insurance policy.

This is a little bit of an oddball question. You've been in IT for a long time, but are there any particular skills you wish you were better trained in to do the CIO job?

Miller: I just think for most CIOs, including myself, being familiar with the business itself, really understanding what the drivers are to the individual businesses are so critical. Because being there with solutions in a timely fashion, require us as CIOs to be familiar with the whole value proposition of the business. It's just hard to spend enough time with the varied businesses to really understand their mission and direction and be out in front of the business. But I think just getting better at those types of business management skills is really important.

View All Videos

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.