It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that my friend and colleague, John Radcliffe, will be retiring from Gartner at the end of 2012. John is to be thanked for leading the creation for what we all now call Master Data Management.
I have known John for over nine years and have never met such a gentleman, and great, open, fair, thought leading and collaborative analyst.
I first met John at an internal research meeting. Literally he and I were leaning against the same pillar (different sides) in a hotel conference room. We introduced each other, and queried what research topics we were covering. John was focused on banks and insurance companies and what was called, at the time, Customer Data Management (CDI). I was focused on what was called Product Information Management (PIM) and Global Data Synchronization for CPG and retail organizations.
We very quickly spotted a pattern. Customer data and product data were both different sides of the same coin. We figured we needed to call this pattern out in order to create an holistic program for uses to focus on. Heaven knows we all need a little focus from time to time in order to progress toward Nirvana. We figured the issue of business-led governance for business critical data would be good topic, with more than two sides, and we got lucky. We capitalized ‘Master Data Management’ (no one really invented it) in order to legitimize the need, and the rest is a lot of history, and a brighter future for organizations seeking to exploit information for increased business value. We know we didn’t invent MDM. But we did decide that it needed am explicit name and focus. And that was key. Second, MDM brought into question the presumed fundamental right that applications have control of their own data. Now that was cool.
John and I co-chaired what was the first ever Master Data Management summit in 2007 (there were other CDI events, but never an MDM event before this). We also shared the keynote at that event – in unforgettable Hollywood, Florida. It was a nerve wracking time but 2 and a half days later a new future for a great number of people opened up.
Despite the lack of available time to prepare, we nervously got up on stage and spoke. In seconds our dialog blended and our patter aligned. It was my greatest pleasure to work with John in this way. We rarely needed to rehearse. He was natural on the big stage and great fun to work with. We even dressed up a few times for fun – and attendees seemed to enjoy it. I still have his and the industries first MDM base-ball cap. I hope to give it to him before the year end.
John has influenced the industry no end, and also me deeply, and I know many other analysts at Gartner, and hopefully a great number of end users too. He cares for end user issues deeply and was the best at listening and seeking new answers to old problems. He has a keen mind and loves a good argument. He taught me a lot. He guided me, and saved me many times from making a fool of myself many times. Without him, I would not be where I am today, and neither would MDM. Today Master Data Management is firmly, formally, and legitimately established as a critical prerequisite for many business and IT initiatives.
I am very sad to see John leave the stage this last time. He leaves as a tower of knowledge- and he is so very humble with it too. He is also a really nice chap with a wickedly dry sense of humor. All of us at Gartner wish John the best for a fun and restful retirement. Lucky bugger.
Thank you John.