Such was the question posed to me recently, and I chose information management (IM). So, after 17+ years at Gartner I am moving from the Applications team of analysts to the one focused on IM. Actually, this is not a new question for me……
I entered the computer field in 1968 as a programmer, and later worked my way up to the programmer/analyst and systems/business analyst roles. Around 1975 I was invited to interview for a job with American Company as a “data analyst”, Believe it or not, I was not that familiar with the concept of databases or data design (which were starting to emerge back then). And so then, as now, once I understood how important IM was, I was excited by the prospect of focusing on IM and decided to leave the field of application development (AD) for a while.
I actually spent about 10 years working on all aspects of IM, including a focus on metadata management and repositories. In the mid-80s, based on my knowledge of AD, IM and metadata, I was approached by a vendor (CGI Systems) to be the US product manager for a model-driven code generator (CASE tool), Pacbase. To be honest, those 5 years were as much about IM as AD when doing CASE projects using concepts like parallel decomposition of data and process diagrams.
Later, I would parlay all those things together into a management position to head up an organization which focused on IM and development methods and tools at Blue Cross/Clue Shield of Florida.
My true love, however, has always been in research. And so, when the opportunity arose to come to Gartner in December of 1993 I jumped on it. Back then, I was in the AD research team and wrote on CASE tools, business process analysis/modeling tools, data modeling/database design tools, and metadata repositories. In recent years I have been in the Application Architecture team with a focus on the collaboration of application architects with others doing enterprise, technology and business architecture and their relationship to AD analyst roles and tools.
So why IM again now? Two reasons, related to what I see as the re-emergence of the importance of IM:
1) As we increasingly add new types of mobile devices, social networks, Cloud computing and other types of technologies and applications on top of existing data structures, the data architecture becomes even more important and requires change (especially in terms of the layer of data services and data transformations) in order to support new agile business process requirements.
2) Metadata management – which permits the understanding of how this all fits together – becomes a critical set of technologies and disciplines, not only to the IM team, but to all aspects of the enterprise.
And so, in my new position, I look to have a greater focus on the issues of metadata management and information services and collaboration with the business and developers.
Net: Organizations need to have personnel who are good at both Applications and Information (and in collaboration). But for the next few years I look forward to once again focusing on IM as a priority for my research!
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