by Andrew White | December 6, 2013 | Submit a Comment
Here are a couple of very specific end user situations that came my way in the last couple of weeks:
- We have a best of breed application landscape. We plan to keep this and add to it, with some small ERP suites. We have an MDM hub in place, but we can’t seem to figure out how to expand the program to cover all the data in all the applications.
- We have an MDM program underway. It’s gone well. We have some parts of the business working with IT; but we can’t get the time of day with any other parts of the business; they don’t seem to have a reason to govern other data. How to identify what data we should next seek to govern?
- We are a large (fill in vendor name here) ERP user. We plan to consolidate from several to fewer instances. We know our current ERP environment did a very poor job with data ownership and information governance. How to think about setting up MDM specifically and/or information governance generally, in this environment?
- How do we control the amount of data being thrown at the MDM program, and stored in the MDM hub?
- How do we prioritize what data we should seek to govern in our data warehouse?
Actually these situations are representative of many inquiries. I kind of grouped a large number of calls into these 4 kinds of calls. They may seem unrelated, but in every case, at some point the client and I ended up at the 3 rings of information governance.
I came up with a simple visual model a few months ago. I found that I actually drew this on walls around the country, as I sat down with end users. I finally blogged on this in July. I said then that this was not exactly a new idea; it was an old idea (that many Information Architects would understand right away) that was just dressed up in a way to make it business consumable. Here is how the 5 categories of calls always end up with a discussion about the 3 rings of information governance.
- A best of breed application strategy needs an application neutral information governance framework; and this might be built on an MDM program and hub. However, with so many applications, you need to categorize information. Some information is common and implies ‘master data’. Some is specific to one application, or several. Some data should NOT be part of the MDM program. So use the 3 rings model to try to understand and document and then set IG policy.
- It seems that some data has been prioritized by the business and is recognized in terms of its value to what the business does (business outcomes or process integrity). Now you need to show how this data, once governed, relates to other data that is, as yet, ungoverned. But also explain how the “second round” of data is not to be governed to the same level of detail, but at a “lighter” level, as it were.
- ERP suites are notoriously bad at helping end users govern information. They just about do an average job with “data entry”. What you need to do is overlay the ERP data model (or data models, in the case of a consolidation) with a layering of information priority. For example, some material data will be used in all major applications. Some material data will be used in several; and some material data will be used in one application. You need to identify this different, and probably track this policy in a different system since ERP systems generally can’t do this. Repeat the exercise for other data domains. Use this is the foundation for setting up the governance board and stewardship functions in the business. Maintain this hierarchy of what is to be governed by whom.
- MDM hubs should not be used to store all the data pertaining to a master data object. For example:
- For the SCM apps, ‘material’ is defined as 136 attributes
- For the WMS apps, ‘material’ is defined as 190 attributes
- For the Omni-channel Marketing apps, ‘material’ is defined as 355 attributes
Only the common attributes that links processes between SCM, WMS and multiple channels should be stored and governed in the MDM hub. In principle the MDM hub treats these (example) 25 attributes as their system of record. You might still store a copy of the other attributes, but more as a system of reference. Those other attributes SHOULD be governed according to their use. Not being master data, they might be SCM application specific. This (ideally) the SCM apps should evolve to operate like MDM hubs. Since they have not yet (what we call MDM aware), then users are too often just stuffing all the data into the MDM hub and treating it all as system of record. This is bad design. The MDM hub will fail over time; technically as well as organizationally. Data in the hub will start to be ungoverned. Data pollution will increase. It is like throwing an ERP mentality at a heterogeneous application landscape. Look what that did for us. Think of categorizing data according to need, and think about storing it (as as system of record) according to proximity of use.
- Ask yourself – who uses what data, when, and why? Do a Pareto analysis on attributes and see if there are sets of like attributes that follow patterns. You might discover that some attributes are oriented around data domains, and some attributes are more commonly requested or used than others.
In each and every case, I fall back on the 3 rings of information governance. It’s a cool, simple way to get the business users and IT team understand what needs to be done. It’s not the answer; but it is a method that helps identify the scope of what needs to change. That is an important step in moving from MDM to EIM.
Category: Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Information Architecture Information as an Asset Information Governance Information Management Information Policy Master Data Master Data Management MDM Tags:
by Andrew White | December 6, 2013 | Submit a Comment
I was reading this week’s US print edition of the Economist, and I was drawn to Charlemagne: the new Hanseatic League. The article explores Britain’s place in Europe vis a vis it’s historical partnerships with Northern Europe and the Baltic states, harkening back to the Hanseatic League. Certainly Britain has a big decision ahead: the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised a referendum after the next general election, on Britain staying in Europe. I hope the Brit’s vote to stay in.
But an odd idea came to me. I have characterized Britain’s foreign policy since Napoleon as “device and hopefully keep them at bay”. The promotion of a larger European Union continued that policy quite nicely. It kept the Euro at bay, and helped keep the EU political machine busy. Better, while improving social stability (well, in some ways), it has helped limit the economic success (i.e. dominance over the UK) of “Euro zone versus UK” compared to “Euro zone with UK”. So what’s next? What if Britain does re-negotiate its relationship with Europe, and in doing so, joins the Euro?
This idea could be a practical negotiation point. Much of the Euro zone would prefer the UK jettisons the point. But what would Britain seek in compensation? Here are a few ideas:
- A European wide elected (3 year) central parliament (not nominated member parliaments as it is now)
- Agreement/stated policy for a priority for economic growth policy over social policy development
- Elimination, perhaps over 3 year period, of internal trade and industry government funding (that massively distorts free market signals in a few countries, like France)
- Agrees a linked EU budget plan that grows (or contracts) in alignment with Euro wide economic growth
- Establishing a financial transfer payment and federated tax infrastructure akin to the US
I think these assurances would just about cover the loss of sterling. Having a currency allows a sovereign state cope with trade imbalances that persist over the long term, with controlled appreciation or depreciation. Just look at how Germany refuses to ‘give up’ its positive trade balance to support Greece’s trade negative balance. Germany does not even accept that it’s an “imbalance”. Yet it is one of the key economic challenges that create the landscape for bubbles and financial crisis.
Silly me. Who am I kidding? That’s not going to happen. Britain will not give the pound. And Europe is more interested in social reengineering than leveraging growth to lift all boats. After all, why else think that a focus on growing inequality should result in government mandated rules that conflict with natural economic forces? Oh well, another day, another dollar.
Category: Economic Growth Economy Euro European Union Politics Tags:
by Andrew White | December 5, 2013 | Submit a Comment
It’s been a busy week, though it does look like I will make it through to Christmas! I saw a few newsworthy items in the press that caught my eye, and I wanted to blog about them. I didn’t have time (and don’t really now) but I simply had to take stock of some big issues.
- China opens up its “one child” policy. A week or so ago this news story hit. Did you see the follow on news that production was being increased in manufacturing for consumer goods, especially those related to babies? Given the population of China, this small change will likely have massive impacts on China’s economy and then also the global economy. There will be millions of new mouths to feed, to clothe, to educate, and to employ, in the coming decades. Talk about a Freakonomics moment. This one will have notable positive impacts on all of us, eventually.
- Wall Street Journal US Print Edition Dec 4 2013: Inventories Get Out of Whack. The old supply chain guy in me tells me that this is a red flag. When there is an imbalance in the retail supply chain, the infamous “bull whip” kicks in and it creates all manner of trouble as orders are cancelled, delayed, and then re-placed, sometime later. Worse, given that this is information in the WSJ, it means the scale is no longer hidden. This is bad news for the ongoing growth in the US economy.
- In the US print edition of the Economist this week, and on the BBC website: Angela Merkel’s (German Chancellor) political party has made a pact with the SDP, a left-of-center leaning power in Germany, in order to form a majority government. It seems this will lead to policies being adopted by Germany that will slow growth in that powerhouse of an economic nation. This bodes negatively for the EU. It’s a sign though, I think, of a global lack of vision and differentiation in all political parties.
- Wall Street Journal US Print Edition Dec 4 2013: A Riddle: Is a Peanut Butter Pop-Tart an ‘Innovation’? Fascinating report that shows how the use of the word “innovation” is on the increase, in a big way. It seems that of the S&P 500, 197 of them mentioned “innovation” in their third quarter conference calls. For the same quarter in 2007, that was only 99 companies. So is innovation really innovative? Or is it marketing speak for new stuff – period? Once upon a time innovation was likely to be disruptive, that is, upset the economic and competitive landscape. I guess that a few sales of peanut butter pop-tarts might upset competitors, but it does not quite seem to equate to disruption. I think we all need a new word…..
Now, onto Thursday PM and Friday!
Category: Economic Growth Economy Politics Supply Chain Management Tags:
by Andrew White | December 4, 2013 | Submit a Comment
OpenText was in the news the other week regarding their Project Red Oxygen. I won’t go into the pro’s and con’s of the project, but I was privy to an internal Gartner email where analsyts shared their views (among themselves) on the project. What caught my eye was not the project itself, but how OpenText was marketing itself. I hot fotted over to their home page and saw, in bright letters, “Enterprise Information Management”. In fact, if you look at their web site today, you can see the following:
Firstly I have to say – I love the press coverage for EIM. Just look at that tag line – the next big thing. That makes me happy for sure. After all, I did have something to do with the formation of Gartner’s coverage, neigh, the initiation, of EIM, back in the day. In fact, due to that history, I have to take issue with the marketing spin OpenText seems to be taking, and so here is a blog on the matter.
Several years ago Gartner formally and officially capitalized the phrase, “Enterprise Information Management”. EIM came about for a good reason: despite the massive amounts spend on IT, spanning BI, analytics, data warehousing, ERP, data integration, and so on, too few organizations in many industries really had any “single version of the truth” for the most important information in the enterprise. EIM was coined as an intention to convey to the end user that their current IM strategy is out of date; it’s wrong; it’s broken. They needed to add something – called EIM – to get the information governance sorted out. So EIM was “launched” and very quickly several things happened:
- It became a silver bullet – it filled a need that many firms had (the name for the “answer”)
- It became a technology – some vendors (think of BusinessObjects), renamed their entire suite, as EIM. It was as if “all things to do with information qualified”. No, it didn’t.
- It was seen as expansive, all in, and boil the ocean.
So how does Gartner describe EIM? Here is our last iteration (and it has not changed that much since inception):
EIM is an integrative discipline for structuring, describing and governing information assets, regardless of organizational and technological boundaries, to improve operational efficiency, promote transparency and enable business insight.
On the face of it, this definition is good. However, on reflection there were some gaps. For example, what information assets are in focus? All? Some? Which ones? What is an “information asset” anyway? The metadata? The actual data? The file that stores the data? It goes on and on. So the definition is good as it goes, but it needs some flesh and bones.
One that happened is that we introduced, a little later after EIM, “enterprise information” and we used that term very carefully to mean “information that is important to the business”. This was a critical step forward; it led to the idea that EIM would only focus on stuff that matters – and by implication we need now to also know what does NOT matter. Second, “important” leads to priority. So now we have the idea of a sequence of steps – starting small and growing over time. Now EIM was a tad more relevant.
Around the time we formally defined “enterprise information”, we also capitalized another hot potato – Master Data Management. Turns out that was another master stroke (no pun intended). MDM became the kick off of a formal EIM program for many organizations, since master data is sits at the center of many organizations. MDM focused on (mostly) structured data (stuff stored in relational databases, originally) that describe what an organization does. This meant things like, but not limited to, customers, products, services, citizens and so on. So MDM got going and now it is as real as you and me.
So where does OpenText fit in? In truth, before EIM was formalized, it is my understanding that OpenText is more of a Content Management vendor. That is, they focus on providing solutions to help organizations manage their (originally) unstructured data. Thus a CM program is not unlike an MDM program – they are both IM programs, with different foci. They are both part of an EIM program, when they are effective and mostly likely aligned (in that they share governance frameworks, as an example).
But MDM vendors (those that sell solutions to support MDM programs) don’t claim to be EIM vendors. So why does OpenText seem to suggest that they are themselves an EIM vendor? Not sure; not actually sure I have ever taken a briefing from them. I guess I might get an email or a call, or even a comment, to educate me
Now for the twist. We launched the markets first ever Master Data Management Summit back in 2007. That event is evolving, as the market is evolving. While still a critical element in any successful EIM program, we are expanding the focus in 2014 to Enterprise Information Management and MDM. Thus Content Management is now part of the dialog with end users! It could be that OpenText was a little ahead of the market in its positioning in the last couple of years, but one could argue they are not “where the puck is headed”. I could not possibly say that, of course, but any vendor could claim they support EIM. So I am still not sure what it buys any vendor to do this….
Category: Enterprise Information Management (EIM) OpenText Tags: OpenText
by Andrew White | November 15, 2013 | Comments Off
Book Review: TheTyranny of Numbers: Measurement and Misrule, Nicholas Eberstadt, 1995, AEI.
After reading Eberstadt’s A Nation of Takers (I carry it around in my PC bag wherever I go) I simply had to dive into this earlier book by the same author. I was mightily glad I did. This book is partly about how easy it is to develop policies that affect society through the use of data and the misuse of analytics. In way, the book is political, but it is also as much about Information Management and specifically, Business Intelligence and analytics. Time and gain, across a wide range of topics, Eberstadt highlights the challenge in using data (that might not be appropriate) to generate a metric that then is used to drive a social policy. Over time, there is a risk that “fact” gets established. Additionally, some social norms even get in the way of any fair challenge of the status quo. He has multiple examples where the erroneous nature of data used, or the design and intention of the analytic, leads to action through policy that might even be detrimental to the original situation. The author looks at poverty, infant mortality, child welfare, as well as investment and debt of the third world.
Take one example: poverty in the US. Only a few weeks ago I had read in the newspapers that poverty in the US was increasing. This is standard doctrine; we are all led to believe that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. It is assumed that more and more people are poor, and thus likely “below the poverty line”. What is the policy line? The result is a policy, now accepted as “normal”, focused on re-distribution of wealth via transfer payments (i.e. entitlements) to those that are poor or needy. The assumption is that the transfer of wealth will alleviate poverty. However, even the metric used for poverty shows some interesting issues. Why does poverty, as reported, increase in recent times when at the same time, entitlements are at their highest? Does that mean we haven’t given enough freebies away? Or does it mean that entitlements are not the real source of poverty? What is “poverty” anyway?
GDP is far higher today than it was in the 1950′s. Transfer payments to the poor or less well off, in numerous forms, are higher than they have ever been – see Eberstadts’ A Nation of Takers. So how is it that poverty is more abundant? In The Tyranny of Numbers, Eberstadt looks at the analytic and the data gathered to drive it. Traditional measures of poverty are derived from measurements of income. The author’s analysis of things like infant mortality, illegitimacy, health, and nutrition, suggest that something different altogether could be driving real poverty. Even though income differences are high or even widening, what those in “poverty” have access too, suggests no real increase in material poverty. For example, the author unearths the unnerving idea that infant mortality is not “caused” by poverty but is in fact more likely caused by social changes taking shape, such as illegitimacy, and the timing and planning involved with reproduction. This is not a topic many want to engage in, since it is not fashionable or politically correct. Marriage is no longer the bastion it was. In fact anyone why “plays marriage up” clearly is out of touch with reality. Well, you get what you pay for. And this book should be read to help demonstrate the other side of the statistical and analytical coin. Recommended: 9 out of 10.
Category: Business Intelligence Economy Information Leadership Information Management IT Political Politics Tags:
by Andrew White | November 14, 2013 | Comments Off
In 2004 Nicolas Carr published, “Does IT Matter”. It was a hit – and he knew it would be. He described IT as a commodity and, despite the growing investment in all things IT, he was always going to attract a lot of attention with his book. I read the book several times, and made copious notes throughout. However, I felt that Carr was being way too simplistic. Even to the point of just trying to sell a book with weak arguments dressed up in emotive titles and quips. It would have been equally popular if he had written, “Does Marketing Matter?” IT is not a single skill, technology or capability. Parts of IT has matured, and some parts have re invented themselves. For any aspect of IT, different firms use and adopt IT in different ways. One firms source of differentiation is another firms source of process efficiency. “IT” does not really exist. Carr’s real point is closer to what heralded the cloud: standardized, commoditized CPU. The fact that processing data itself is getting cheaper – yes, that is true – but that is not a fair representation for IT. IT is not commodity; but some elements of IT do tend to that state and normal invisible hands lead to creative destruction.
That being said, while I was down in Orlando at our Gartner IT Symposium (my 1-1 word cloud from the event; “day in the life of an analyst at Gartner Symposium”), I was reading Tyler Cowen’s, Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation. I stood on stage and said something like, “IT does matter – and this book does a pretty good job of showing you why”. I just finished the book, and completed my book review. It is rather lengthy, since the book is very good and generated a lot of ideas. Here are some of them:
Cowen’s premise couples IT and social change, as well as politics and economics. In a nutshell, the ability of people to use technology will be a critical enabler that continues to drive a wedge or split in the social rubric of our nation. Those that can leverage IT’s pervasiveness, will continue to grow richer. Those that can’t will increasingly be part of a much larger group that won’t necessarily drift towards poverty (that’s another issue – see The Tyranny of Numbers), but will “dumb down” into a mass of bag packers at Kroger and PC gamers. In fact, the bifurcation explored by Cowen reminded me a lot of Charles Murray’s ‘Coming Apart’.
- Cowen’s strength is in describing the instrumentation of everything. His “mechanized intelligence” is a catch-all for a range of topics that are hot and getting hotter, from machine learning, quantified self, internet of everything, digital normal (new normal going digital), robots/automation, big data insights, etc. We talked about this in our Gartner Symposium Keynote! He explores various ways in which work and play will be instrumented and this opens up new opportunities for change, growth, competition and creative destruction.
- He then looks at who in our society will take advantage of this phenomena. His conclusion is that good chess players will win out. He does go on and on about chess. I learned a lot more about chess competitions I didn’t know even existed; but his point is well taken. There is a class of people with specifically wired minds, that will use these devices and information (not just analytics – sorry to my BI friends) from them; and a lot more of us that won’t use them but will use the dumb results of them (pc gamer, versus the game designer, versus the designer of the engine used to design games).
- Cowmen turns his arguments towards politics and social issues. And this is where I got confused, though I did enjoy the book. I originally was drawn to this book due to my interest in economics and how it changes our society, and draws out social policy. But the book shifts between a narration of what is happening in IT and how this will change, and be changed by, society. It’s hard to classify this book. But it is thought provoking. Certainly worth reading and soon.
So the book is partly about economics (he is an economist, after all) but it also shows, more importantly, how IT is and will impact America’s social structure. His ideas are striking, and may not play out quite as described. But the possibility of such a striking separation in our society is fascinating. Read after Coming Apart – and you will see amazing consistency in the message.
Category: Business Drivers Business Intelligence Business Strategy Cloud Economic Growth Economy Gartner Symposium 2013 Information Leadership Instrumentation Internet of Everything Quantified Self Tags:
by Andrew White | November 12, 2013 | Comments Off
This week I had one of the oddest inquiries I have seen in 11 years as an analyst. I dialed in and met with 3 business users. Their challenge was this (and I paraphrase):
We can see all manner of issues with data inconsistency and quality all around or business. Numerous times our business outcomes are harmed or held hostage to issues in the data. We know this. We can see these issues. We can explain them – even to our IT colleagues But we cannot get them to join with us to do something about this issue! IT reports to us that “the integration between the two (or more) systems is working as designed – everything is OK”. Help.
I do not remember being asked to help business people build a business case to convince IT that IT needs to change its behavior. When this kind of question comes up (which is quite frequently), it is usually IT that has the challenge with the business not overly interested in cleaning up data and business processes that abuse the data. Of course, in any one week, up to 40% of my inquiries will be with (business) end users (sometimes with IT too); but the fact that IT was not even interested in the problem was the most interesting part about this inquiry this week.
I wondered to myself l- what was the CIO actually doing for this organization? Was the CIO aware of the opportunity in front of them? Who knows. Well, this stuff certainly keeps you on your toes!
Category: Business and IT Business Case Business Drivers Information Leadership Tags:
by Andrew White | November 8, 2013 | 1 Comment
On Tuesday I blogged on the pending passing of the Data Act that should, if it works as expected, bring some transparency on where our US Federal governance spends our hard earned taxes. I, rather tounge in cheek, said the act would not get passed. However, it seems the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee did pass the act, but with ammendments. And now it heads to the Senate.
The revisions however take out much of the sting of the purpose of the Act in the first place. For example, in DATA Act clears Senate committee as amendment drops accountability platform, you can see how wording has changed that ensures internal controles over the idenfication fo waste have been removed. In other words, you and I might find some interesting waste and overlap in spending, or various bridges to anywhere, but the government itself is not going to worry about. Talk about obfuscation of the obvious (internal self governance).
Let’s see if the Senate wants to present its dirty laundry to the pulic.
Category: Economy Information Governance Information Management Information Trust Open Data Open Government/Data Tags:
by Andrew White | November 6, 2013 | Comments Off
At the 2010 Gartner Master Data Management Summit I presented, with my colleague Deb Logan, on how to start governing (master) data with Master Data Management (MDM). During the opening slide I referred to a situation during the past US recession where the Federal Government had paid billions of dollars to dead people, and those incarcerated, that was meant to increase consumer spending. Here is the original story on a CNBC page: 89,000 Dead People, Jailbirds Got Stimulus Checks. Turns out that something like $814bn was to be shared among 52 million people, each receiving $250. Thus the 89,000 in this story received about $22M. The articles of the time reported that about half the money was returned. Interestingly some of those that were dead had not received benefits in 30 years and would thus be 136 years old at the time of receiving this latest $250.
Well, it seems the Federal Government is at it again. I saw this headline today: Medicare paid claims for deceased, undocumented immigrants
The article reports, “Medicare improperly paid $23M in claims for deceased patients to providers, suppliers, Medicare, Medicare Advantage organizations, and prescription drug plan sponsors.” If these were indeed “claims”, this is a clear sign of fraud. The bad news is that this is slightly higher than the $22M in the story from 2010! So one wonders how much money just keeps on going down the drain either due to fraud or simple mistakes.
If the relevant organizations instilled a governance routine to align databases, such that all claimants were “tested” for validity, such fraud and mistakes could be avoided. For $22M at a pop, I’d quite my job and go do the work myself. Might take a couple of years to sort out the workflow and the process, and a few million on technology, but really…..
Category: Economy Information Governance Information Leadership Master Data Management MDM Waste Tags:
by Andrew White | November 5, 2013 | 1 Comment
I saw this interesting article today: Government must lead the way on structured data. It seems that that a committee will vote this week on a move to require the government to publish (i.e. make open) data that describes how they spend our money. Now that would be interesting. I can’t imagine this will be approved. The government is hardly likely to willingly show who gets our hard earned money. The open data move (itself of interest) is clearly stepping on political egg shells here. Few politicians will want this kind of data consumable by you and me. We might actually know what’s really going on, and seek to change things in Washington. I give this is a low probability of passing. Let’s see what happens.
I guess there is a lesson here for Open Data and private companies – there are always political egg shells to watch out for….
Category: Economy Information Policy Open Data Open Government/Data Tags: