Saturday, November 9, 2013

Enterprise Data Management Reality and Perspective

Talent and Information are the most Valuable Asset in Enterprise today. 

With the exponential growth of business data, Enterprise Data Management needs to put in every mature business’s information agenda, it does not only need to be embraced by the business departments, but by the "enterprise" in its entirety.

1.    Data Management Reality 

For most businesses, there is no difference between Information and data, not to mention the differences between Information Systems and the Technology solution that supports it! Currently, organizations are at a different level in managing their enterprise data resources:

1). The old way, there’s no data management strategy, just wrangle with each data store, user, application, and report requirement one at a time. The mentality "I don't need all that other stuff, just give me MY data!" is common.

2). The ‘hyper’ way, but lack of focus: Organizations get "enlightened", there are many data related titles, and there are a lot of data relevant activities, however, there’re no holistic strategy and clear principle/policy/process in managing data.

3). Return to sanity. Feet back on the ground firmly. Realize you can't eat the entire elephant at once, but one bite at a time. You set reasonable goals, build up a solid data strategy, create a high-level loose framework, and then start implementing one database, project, reporting requirement, or department at a time.  

2. Information Governance is the Key to Effective EDM

Enterprise Data Management (EDM) implies that there is strong Information governance which, in turn, supports Data architecture and solution design. There are a couple of options:

(1). Businesses enforce EDM across the organization by the proactive support of technology. In other words, mutual agreement and commitment of all C-level members including the will to enforce a common approach in their respective division is a prerequisite for successful Enterprise Data Management. However, in many cases, Information Architecture is the poor cousin in the Enterprise Architecture space with the focus more on implementing technology to try and resolve issues reactively, rather than proactively. Also, C level support is something many businesses are struggling to get. 

(2). Businesses incrementally build EDM with contributions and buy-in from the different business layers. There is a problem with different business perspectives: What is perfectly appropriate at a senior level will be seen as nebulous at the lower levels. What is perfectly appropriate at the detailed technical level will be seen as deafening noise at senior levels. For this reason, some businesses have different levels of the data model, from conceptual downwards through various logical models until got hit the physical world. It could be hard and the slowest process where ROI takes months if not years as there is a certain amount of foundational governance activity and supporting process/tools needed that simply will be difficult to have a hard ROI benefit, but incremental approach lasts the test of time due to business buy-in. 

Therefore, the goal of strong information governance is to well balance the long term focus with some quick wins. The broad scope and long term focus are great planning tools and overall targets. But you have to have smaller goals that are achievable in reasonable time within the current business and IT environment. Nonetheless, to keep up with the competition, businesses cannot afford to complete an enterprise model first, before starting to harvest. They need to follow an incremental approach that ensures a return-on-investment within a reasonable period of time. 


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