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Archive for January, 2011

by: Bsomich
31  Jan  2011

Weekly IM Update.

 
 
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Open Source Solution Offerings

MIKE2.0 Open Source Solution Offerings are used to implement solutions to information management problems, solely through the use of Open Source technologies. The goal of MIKE2.0 is to become an organising framework for the use of Open Source in the Information Management space.

The MIKE2.0 Methodology plans to evolve to include:

  • An Open Source Maturity Model, using Technology Selection QuickScan as a starting point
  • A definition of an Open Source version of the SAFE Architecture bringing together multiple Open Source components
  • Open Sourcing of some of MIKE2.0 Tools, such as IM QuickScan
  • Assessments of Open Source Data Management projects from communities such as SourceForge and Eclipse
  • Detailed design and code Supporting Assets that are all Open Source
  • Drive development of new Open Source technologies in the data management space, through the through end-to-end lifecycle of creating these products.
  • An Open Source Collaboration Forum to harness ideas about realising the open source value proposition across industries.

We hope you find this of benefit and welcome any suggestions you may have to improve it.

Sincerely,

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This Week’s Food for Thought:

Under the Radar

What happens when your organization is slow to address key needs? Does it expect people to fall in line and use often antiquated tools for data management, project management, or some other area? In this post, I’ll discuss what many people are being forced to do–and what that portends for organizations trying to effectively manage their data. .

Read more.  An “Open” State of the Union Stirs the Need for Better Information Management

Taking the advice of his own open government initiative, President Obama is further extending his State of the Union reach by utilizing various social media and web 2.0 sites.   In addition to hosting Facebook roundtables and soliciting Twitter feedback,  the President will be answering public questions via YouTube (see www.youtube.com/askobama).

As well as encouraging more government transparency, the initiative allows the public to actually ”get involved” with our government through the use of technology. This two-way street of open dialogue is great for education and morale, but one can only imagine the flood of questions and comments the American public has.  As with other crowdsourcing projects, the question arises: who’s collecting and analyzing all of the public feedback?   Or better yet, who’s going to do something about it?

Read more.

   MDM – Myth Deception Management 

Adopting master data management in an organization is only half the battle. The rest comes from clarifying misconceptions and definitions of your MDM venture, according to a new report from Gartner. The analyst business outlined a list of consistent myths and problems surrounding MDM implementation in its new report, “The 10 Myths and Realities of Master Data Management.” Underlying the list of myths is the lack of clarity with MDM adoption across an enterprise, said Andrew White, Gartner research vice president.

“MDM is the latest attempt to solve the old problem of inconsistent versions of important data at the [center] of an organization,” White said in a news release. “As with any new initiative, there is a lot of hype and confusion, and with hype and confusion comes misunderstanding.”

Read more.

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Category: Information Development
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by: Phil Simon
31  Jan  2011

MDM and the Vacuum Effect

I recently had a discussion with three friends of mine about Master Data Management (MDM). Jim Harris is a professional writer and data quality expert. Dalton Cervo and Mark Allen are long-time data management professionals in the middle of writing their first book, MDM in Practice (John Wiley & Sons, June 2011.) In this post, I cover one of the main problems that people and organizations face when implementing an MDM solution. I call this The Vacuum Effect.

The four of us agreed on the need for MDM, particularly at large organizations with multiple systems and complex data management requirements. You can only do so much with temp tables and other technological Band-Aids. We had little doubt that organizations can manage their data in vastly superior ways by adopting MDM tools, under the right circumstances.

Misplaced Hope

Cervo, Allen, and Harris each pointed out something that many technology vendors neglect to mention during the sales cycle (and many organizations do not want to hear): MDM does not exist in a vacuum. MDM is no panacea. Consider the following organization:

  • Its data is very inconsistently defined.
  • A major gap exists between IT and the lines of business (LOBs)
  • Its data quality is poor in most parts and downright awful in others.
  • Data stewardship? What’s that?
  • Standalone spreadsheets and databases are the norm.
  • There’s no semblance of data governance.

MDM to the rescue? In short, no.

Yet, some organizations continue with a formal RFP process, ultimately selecting an MDM tool without having address the core issues causing so many of its problems. In a way, MDM is no different than ERP, CRM, or other powerful, enterprise-wide applications and technologies:

They can only truly be effective with fundamentally sound business practices supporting them.

Simon Says

Many of us want to believe that there’s a single technology (or technologies) that can solve all of our problems. Let me set the record straight: there isn’t, and MDM is no exception to this rule.

If your organization is not mature enough for an MDM solution, take a step back. Evaluate the problems, begin a data governance program, address data quality issues, and bridge the IT-business gap. Starting an MDM project sans making these improvements is bound to fail, sullying the organization’s opinion of the technology and wasting a great deal of money in the process.

As I have seen before in the ERP world, often an organization that fails to address these issues blames the product, vendor, consultants, or all of the above–anyone but themselves. Perhaps it will go on to select a new MDM solution, believe that they had just backed the wrong horse. Don’t fall prey to The Vacuum Effect.

Think golf: A golfer with a horrible swing shouldn’t just buy the best set of clubs.

Feedback

What say you?

Tags: , ,
Category: Information Management, Master Data Management
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by: Bsomich
27  Jan  2011

An “Open” State of the Union Stirs the Need for Better Information Management

Taking the advice of his own open government initiative, President Obama is further extending his State of the Union reach by utilizing various social media and web 2.0 sites.   In addition to hosting Facebook roundtables and soliciting Twitter feedback,  the President will be answering public questions via YouTube tomorrow (see www.youtube.com/askobama).

As well as encouraging more government transparency, the initiative allows the public to actually ”get involved” with our government through the use of technology.  This two-way street of open dialogue is great for education and morale, but one can only imagine the flood of questions and comments the American public has.  As with other crowdsourcing projects, the question arises: who’s collecting and analyzing all of the public feedback?   Or better yet, who’s going to do something about it?

Category: Information Development
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
26  Jan  2011

Profile Spotlight: Bryn Davies

Bryn Davies

Bryn Davies has over 23 years of broad industry experience in IT and in particular Data Management. In addition to designing, building and managing one of the first data warehouses in SA, he spent 14 years with Sybase South Africa as Technical Director and later Regional Manager for the Cape Town operation. During this time, he was involved in all aspects of Business Intelligence, data management, enterprise application and data integration, and data and information quality.

He was also product and solutions manager for leading data quality software solutions, and managed numerous consulting exercises at SA companies for data quality, data integration and BI.

Subsequently Bryn co-founded InfoBlueprint and he is currently Managing Director of the company, which is dedicated to providing leading professional services in the fields of Information Management and Data Quality. He has presented and authored a number of articles on the subject of data quality.

Connect with Bryn.

Category: Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
24  Jan  2011

Under the Radar

What happens when your organization is slow to address key needs? Does it expect people to fall in line and use often antiquated tools for data management, project management, or some other area? In this post, I’ll discuss what many people are being forced to do–and what that portends for organizations trying to effectively manage their data.

A Little Yarn

I was recently talking about technology and management with Craig Jarrow of Time Management Ninja. Craig told me the story of a friend of his (call her Amy) who works for a large organization that does not provide sufficiently powerful sanctioned tools for project management.

Amy is tasked with management a distributed project at her company and, to be blunt, she doesn’t have the tools needed to do her job. Here’s the rub, though: Amy doesn’t live in a vacuum. She talks to people who do and reads blogs about more collaborative programs that allow people to work seamless across boundaries. One tool about which she has heard great things is BaseCamp from 37signals. Amy signs up for the service (I hesitate to call it a “program”) and, within minutes, is:

  • Sharing documents
  • Collaborating with key members of her team
  • Adding users with different rights
  • Receiving automatic updates and minimizing the frustrating back-and-forth of interminable e-mail chains

Of course, Amy has to do this “under the radar”, as she knows the she’s supposed to go through formal change request and formal procurement processes. These processes will take a great deal of time that, quite frankly, she simply doesn’t have. Faced with potentially offending the powers-that-be and getting her job done in a timely manner, she opts for the latter.

Who’s at fault here?

Some people might excoriate Amy for “going rogue” and circumventing the organization’s policies here. I’m not one of those people. She had to get her job done and her organization’s current tools simply didn’t allow her to do that. Shame on the company for asking her to do something–and not enabling her to be successful by virtue of deficient technology.

I’m a big believer that organizations need to provide their people with sufficient tools in order for them to be successful. For example, let’s say that I have to analyze millions of records. My only alternatives are Microsoft Access and Excel. You’ll forgive me if I download and use a more powerful and free application such as MySQL.

Simon Says

Like anything else, data management does not exist in a vacuum. If you want to minimize the number of people who use “their own” tools, you’ll have to provide them with sufficiently powerful and agile ones from the get go. Yes, technology changes at light speed these days. Also, some individuals may only want to use the applications with which they are already comfortable. Not everyone likes to change. Translation: you’ll never make everyone happy. By the same token, however, relying on old standbys that no longer meet end users’ needs is the surest way to promote data and project anarchy–and related compatibility issues.

Do yourself a favor: Keep up on advances in technology and don’t assume that what worked three years ago is still a “best of breed” application today. Only then can you credibly tell employees of your organization that they don’t need to use a random application or service.

Feedback

What say you?

Tags:
Category: Information Management
3 Comments »

by: Bsomich
21  Jan  2011

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Specific feedback and suggestions are also welcomed in the comments section below.

Category: Information Development
3 Comments »

by: Bsomich
19  Jan  2011

Profile Spotlight: Matthew Moore

Matthew Moore

Matthew Moore has been working in the Knowledge Management field for over 10 years.  He is currently a Director at Innotecture, an information management consulting firm based in Australia.  Matt’s professional experience includes knowledge management, learning and development, internal communications and community development working with such companies as PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM, Oracle and the Australian government.

Connect with Matt.

Category: Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
17  Jan  2011

Enterprise Information Architecture: No Small Endeavor

I often think about inputs vs. outputs. That is, in order to get more out of a system and data, you typically have to put more into it. The aphorism has stood up remarkably well in my ten-plus years of consulting large organizations on how to manage their systems and information.

Against this backdrop, I was reading Robert Hillard’s book: Information-Driven Business: How to Manage Data and Information for Maximum Advantage. Hillard writes extensively about Entperprise Information Architecture (EIA) and the need for organizations to take a holistic approach to systems and data management throughout the enterprise. In this post, I discuss why many organizations get so little out of their systems and data–and the requirements for EIA.

Definitions

Lest I get ahead of myself, let’s get our terms straight. Wikipedia defines Information Architecture as:

the art of expressing a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems. Among these activities are library systems, Content Management Systems, web development, user interactions, database development, programming, technical writing, enterprise architecture, and critical system software design. Information architecture has somewhat different meanings in these different branches of IS or IT architecture. Most definitions have common qualities: a structural design of shared environments, methods of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, and online communities, and ways of bringing the principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

This definition is rife with other definitions and important concepts well beyond the scope of one post–or even a series of posts, for that matter. Suffice it to say for now that one doesn’t “implement” EIA in six months. In other words, it’s the antithesis of an ERP or CRM project with a “go-live” or system activation date. On the contrary, EIA is a state of mind and ongoing process for one simple reason: things change, especially these days. Systems, data, people, process, and technology are hardly static entities. We’re not living in 1970.

Requirements for EIA

Hillard writes that requirements for EIA include:

  • Business context
  • Enterprise Metadata
  • Systems Inventory
  • Master Data
  • Information Governance
  • Key Data Sets
  • Data Set Metrics
  • Information Flows
  • Information Users
  • Priority Standards
  • Priority Investments
  • Data Quality Measures

These are necessary steps for organizations to do EIA effectively.  For example, it’s hard to imagine an organization with its arms around EIA sans data quality measures or data governance. Even not understanding the flows to which Hillard refers is fraught with peril. If you don’t know how information gets from point A to point B, then how can you properly manage it?

Barriers

Achieving the holy grail of EIA is anything but easy because, quite simply, we live in the real world. Hillard writes that one major “barrier to the development of such a strategic information architecture is the business executive’s seemingly insatiable desire for instant gratification. (Perhaps these executives have a great deal in common with toddlers!)”

Truer words have never been written. Even a CIO who “gets it” may be replaced after a few years and, as is often the case, successors want to put their own stamps on an organization. Even the same CIO may have to abandon key initiatives because of cost or regulatory issues, not to mention changes in the organization’s strategic direction. Finally, let’s not place too much emphasis on the role of the CIO. As a wise man once told me, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” CIOs aren’t the ones doing the audits, entering the data, and making the everyday decisions that invariably effect data quality, integrity, and management.

Simon Says

The bottom line is that EIA is a massive endeavor easy to do wrong or incompletely. The number of moving parts that need to be coordinated is downright daunting, even in properly run companies. (Dysfunctional organizations might as well not even try EIA.)

Of course, perfection is hardly required–and only the most draconian environments look at EIA as a binary. Organizations and senior management need to recognizes that EIA is a long-term and highly beneficial process–without a definitive end. Its benefits can be significant, but those looking for a “quick hit” would be better served by discrete projects such as MDM.

Feedback

What say you?

Tags:
Category: Enterprise Data Management, Information Development
3 Comments »

by: Robert.hillard
14  Jan  2011

The Small Worlds data measure applied to business innovation

In my book, Information-Driven Business, I introduce the concept of the “Small Worlds” test on information.  In summary, this measure determines the relationship between complexity and separation in any data.  One of the best ways to apply this test is to use it to determine how innovative a new product or business idea actually is.

There are two things we can learn from the past twenty years.  The first is that new and truly disruptive businesses almost always use information in a new way (examples include the way new credit card issuers use loyalty schemes and Amazon’s ability to recommend purchases).  The second is that the information associated with truly disruptive businesses more closely adheres to the Small Worlds principle that separation and complexity have a logarithmic relationship.  That is, adding more complexity in the information only results in users having to navigate a small number of extra steps.

For instance, the telephone network of the early twentieth century was requiring a linear growth in telephone operators to keep growing, but by the second half of the twentieth century it had innovated to ensure that moving from the simplest transaction (calling next door) and the most complex (calling the other side of the world) only added a small number of exchanges.  Similarly, iTunes doesn’t just allow you buy music online, rather it innovates by reducing the number of steps required to relate information on your iPod to the artist and album that you are interested in.

You can preview through Google Books the chapter of Information-Driven Business defining the “Small Worlds” measure.

Tags:
Category: Information Strategy, Information Value
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
13  Jan  2011

How Does Collaboration Impact Business Performance?

A recent whitepaper by Frost & Sullivan examines the results of a 2009 study on enterprise collaboration.   In the study, 3 areas of business performance in test organizations were seen to have better results with the use of collaboration tools versus those without.   Those areas included:

Innovation (68% vs 39%)

Sales Growth (76% vs 50%)

Profit Growth (71% vs 45%)

You can view the results of the study done here.

Are you currently using any collaboration platforms or tools in your company?  What positive (or negative) results have you noticed from using them?

Category: Information Development
No Comments »

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