This morning I was at the New Zealand CIO Summit 2015. The event was opened by Andrew Patterson.

Andrew shared an interesting story about a discussion he had with Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development. In the New Zealand government's 2015 budget, provision has been made for beneficiaries to receive $25 extra per week from 1 April 2016. Paula Bennett said that this was made possible because of new IT capabilities around Business Intelligence and Big Data.

It is likely that the cost to the country for this increase will result in significant savings. The government is now able to make decisions based on real-time predictive analytics. For example, being able to provide financial assistance to a family may reduce costs associated with domestic violence. Big Data is being used as an intervention tool with outcomes that affect lifestyle and the economy. Without access to data and predictive analysis, Bill English wouldn't have been able to agree to or promise such an increase.

Line of business often find it hard to justify spend as they don't have the capability for building a good business case. Trying to get the CFO to agree is often frustrating due to a lack of solid or convincing data.

This decision is probably also one of the best marketing initiatives I have seen in a long time. It caught the competition/opposition completely off guard. While they should have seen it coming, they didn't.

Imagine what this means to a business competing in today's economy.

Key note speaker, Rich Vancil, drove home the point of the CIO needing to work better with other line of business managers, specifically the CMO. In the early days, most of IT's spend was on financial systems. For the developer it was easy, you're just dealing with dollars and cents, right? Today's IT spend is greatest in the area of marketing. Not such a simple area for software developers. Marketing people wake up in the morning with a "new idea"!

The CIO needs to learn how to talk a new language. They now need to be able to discuss a wide range of marketing concepts in a lingo that the CMO understands. The CIO has the ability to empower marketing to deliver an end to end customer centric experience.

So in short, today, like never before, IT is able to flex its muscle by enabling line of business managers to understand the information that they already have or that is publicly available (this is typically unstructured). This leads to informed decisions that can be a 'hit' with our customers.