Join us at Forrester’s CIO Forum in Las Vegas on May 3 and 4 for “The New Age Of Business Intelligence.”

The amount of data is growing at tremendous speed — inside and outside of companies’ firewalls. Last year we did hit approximately 1 zettabyte (1 trillion gigabytes) of data in the public Web, and the speed by which new data is created continues to accelerate, including unstructured data in the form of text, semistructured data from M2M communication, and structured data in transactional business applications.

Fortunately, our technical capabilities to collect, store, analyze, and distribute data have also been growing at a tremendous speed. Reports that used to run for many hours now complete within seconds using new solutions like SAP’s HANA or other tailored appliances. Suddenly, a whole new world of data has become available to the CIO and his business peers, and the question is no longer if companies should expand their data/information management footprint and capabilities but rather how and where to start with. Forrester’s recent Strategic Planning Forrsights For CIOs data shows that 42% of all companies are planning an information/data project in 2012, more than for any other application segment — including collaboration tools, CRM, or ERP.

So CIOs today clearly understand the value of all this data — if it can be unlocked and delivered to the business in form of accurate, relevant and timely insights to improve business decisions. In the past, information management was mainly driven from a risk and compliance point of view — to get a clear overview of what is happening within the company and make sure it’s following certain regulations. Our Strategic Planning Forrsights data shows that today only 42% of companies that are planning information/data projects are doing so because they want to improve compliance and risk management. The top driver, selected by 72% of all respondents, was to make better-informed business decisions.

Unfortunately, it is easy to get overwhelmed by today’s wide portfolio of information management tools and solutions and their fantastic capabilities advertised by their vendors. The sad truth is that only about 50% of companies are satisfied today with the outcome of their projects to make better informed business decisions, while about 75% are happy with their achievements regarding risk and compliance (see this Forrester study, comissioned by IBM). Apparently, there is a gap between expectations and the outcome of many data/information management projects today.

CIOs need to consider many different aspects of their data projects so they can select the right products, set the right processes, and involve the right people. A successful data project is all about the three elements of products, processes, and people. Most information/data projects are falling short today because there is too strong a focus on implementing nice, sophisticated analytic tools but too little effort on involving the right people (from business and IT) with executive sponsorship and establishing the right information governance processes for sustainable success and continuous improvement.

Please share your thoughts here. If you can, please join my colleague Boris Evelson and me at our joint speech, “The New Age Of Business Intelligence: You Are Not In Kansas Any More” at Forrester’s CIO Forum (#CIOF12) in Las Vegas on May 3 and 4.