The cowboy is one of the most indelible images of American culture, with good reason. He’s strong, brave, honorable and badass when necessary. When something goes wrong, a cowboy sets it right. At least that’s what I learned in my youth, watching everything from old Western movies to gnarly ’70s rock.

CIO_ridesagainThe CIO rides again

In the past, CIOs were often the cowboys (and cowgirls) of the C-suite, enabling fundamental business shifts and gains with new technology. According to Forrester Research, 2016 is going to be the year in which the CIO rides again. The firm’s new report, “Predictions 2016: The New Breed Of CIO; How Digitally Savvy CIOs Obsessed With Customers Will Drive Growth,” says:

In 2016, CEOs will expect CIOs to grow out of being mere custodians of technology and to actively wield tech to drive revenue instead. This brief charts how that shift will make your job as a CIO harder; tells you what to do about it in terms of communication, execution, investment, risk assessment, hiring, and more; and explains why culture change and learning the nuts and bolts – not just the lingo – of customer experience (CX) are crucial to your success.

Here is an important clue on exactly how CIOs will regain their badass status:

CIOs Will Go Digital Native To Succeed: Effective CIOs will spread outside-in thinking, agile delivery, and a sense-and-respond culture to deliver digital success. They’ll also tear down their internal tech silos to shift the focus toward customers and spread CX proficiency.

What it really means to go “digital native”

First coined in 2001, the term “digital native” exploded on the tech scene earlier this year, when several companies used it to target millennials in their job recruiting – the companies wanted younger people who’d grown up immersed in digital technology. This term was quickly flagged as an age discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

As Forrester points out, going “digital native” requires CIOs to “tear down their internal tech silos to shift the focus toward customers.” Tech silos – and, to put a finer point on it – data silos have been the bane of CIOs’ existence for decades. CIOs have gotten a bad rap for not breaking down these silos, but there’s a good reason for that: consolidating and rationalizing enormous historic and production databases has an enormous price tag, with little immediate impact. It’s like Y2K, only multiplied a few times.

This is where CIOs can apply “digital native” thinking in a very big, redemptive way. Digital natives believe in the power of cloud technologies and embrace them as mission-critical to enterprise IT.

Birst breaks down data silos

Birst’s cloud-based analytics enable organizations to effectively break down data silos by easily spinning up virtual data sets. Our newly introduced “Networked BI” capabilities create a network of interwoven BI instances that share a common analytical fabric. This enables organizations to expand the use of BI across multiple regions, departments and customers in a more agile way, and empowers decentralized groups to augment the global analytical fabric with their own local data.

The Birst Cloud BI platform also provides data extraction and connectivity options for a wide variety of databases, flat and structured files, analytic databases, big data, and popular cloud and on-premises applications.

In other words, you can painlessly connect live or extract data from any source, in near real-time, breaking down data silos without lifting a metaphorical sledgehammer. There, it’s official: you’re now a badass digital native.

To learn more about how Birst uses the cloud to break down data silos, read the blog, “The Virtualization of Business Intelligence,” by Pedro Arellano, Birst Senior Director of Product Strategy.