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What do we do with IT if we can no longer increase productivity?

by Andrew White  |  February 11, 2013  |  3 Comments

I had the good fortune to spend last week in Barcelona, Spain, with several hundred users focused on Business Intelligence (BI) and Master Data Management (MDM).  I spoke as part of the Gartner BI Summit and the Gartner MDM Summit.  It was a busy week – as it should be.

At the BI Summit I presented some research on information strategy.  More specifically, how can IT explain what it is seeking to do with it’s money, when talking with the business.  The focus was the Information Innovation Yield Curve.  This was positioned as a book-end; the other book-end is Infonomics.  Infonomics focuses on managing information as an asset (think balance sheet); and the Information Innovation Yield Curve focuses on investment strategy – that is – how to develop a complex/combined strategy to figure out the winning strategy to maximize yield on investment in those assets (think profit and loss).

I introduced this session with a reference to a new report that I had spotted in a recent Economist article [The Job-rich depression – A dive into Britain’s productivity puzzle uncovers a serious risk to the economy].  The worrying point I was drawing on concerned how new data is suggesting that productivity in the UK might actually be falling; and what is the implication of this.  My point was that investment in IT is meant to help increase productivity.  So how can it be that productivity might fall?  Could this same situation take place in the US, or other advanced economies?  What happens to IT generally and investment in information management, if productivity starts to decline?

I mentioned this item at our keynote at the MDM Summit, after Bill O’Kane and I had finished the opening skit.  It is always nerve wracking but fun to tee off the event with a mildly humorous angle to try to get a key point over.  Hopefully our attempt at showing how best practices can help make MDM less complex came over.  The keynote look at how organizations are looking at MDM as more of a launchpad (or foundation?) for a range of initiatives.  We looked at the latest thinking on how governing information adds value (or enabled) other investments in cloud, mobile and big data.

In terms of the other session, I spoke on a range of topics:

  • How Master Data Management is but a step along a much larger, more serious program (such as Enterprise Information Management)
  • How to make adopting MDM more effective
  • How to organize to make MDM work better
  • The benefits of aligning BPM and MDM
  • How to get started with MDM
  • The state of the market for technology and software supporting MDM and also the future of Multidomain MDM.

I had numerous 1-1’s with end users that hit on a few key topics:

And my number one (i.e. most frequent) “category” of end user looked like this (I paraphrase):

  • We have been adding numerous add-on’s (such as best of breed tools) to our (withering) enterprise information platform
  • We are fast concluding that there is not much new benefit that can be sustained  by simply adding the next new silver bullet
  • We are concluding that there is more value locked up in our platform that we can release if we finally get to grips with the platform

I thought this was very illuminating and seems to highlight how important it is for us all to ensure a balance focused across our core, information management platforms and capabilities, and the adoption of new, hyped toys.  It seems a large number of users are focused now on getting the platform “right” rather than simply adding on the next silver bullet.

Category: big-data  cloud-computing  dark-data  master-data-management  mdm  mdm-summit-na  mobile-technology  

Tags: mdm-summit-na  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on What do we do with IT if we can no longer increase productivity?

  1. Pieter Post says:

    Hi Andrew,

    thank you for sharing this brief report on your presentation on the Gartner MDM Summit.

    One of the key topics, and striking question for me is: “How to design and build an MDM strategy once an ERP/application strategy is in flight or baked”

    Have you planned a blog on this topic or have you wrote about this in the past that can provide any guidance on this interesting key topic?



  2. Andrew White says:

    Hi Pieter, thanks for the comment.

    You ask a great question – one that comes up with end users all the time. I have said before, this specific topic – how to develop an MDM strategy given an established, even “modern” application strategy like ERP or ERP migration/consolidation, is in flight. This is a vexing problem not least because so many users feel that their vendor(s) that sold them the applications should have solved the problem from emerging in the first place – when in fact these ERP vendors (and large scale application vendors in general, or even large scale home grown/developed applications) are part of what causes the problem.

    I have written on the topic several times. Once, in “Should Organizations Using ERP ‘Do’ Master Data Management?”, I posed the question – does any firm with ERP even need MDM? The answer is a resounding yes. Not because MDM is special; and this is not the same as saying those organizations need to go spend lots of money on MDM tools or solutions. The real comment I was making in the note is that any user of business applications, even those from vendors with large application suites, cannot delegate the responsibility for “information architecture” to the application vendor; and neither can those same organizations ignore the need for “information governance”. It turns out that the standard blue print for ERP, circa early middle 80’s, updated over the years with industry nuances, remains flawed. Not flawed from the ERP’s main purpose (single view of financial transaction and so transaction integrity) but flawed in the near-implied promise of single view of master data. Standard ERP does not support this. Different processes are needed i.e. MDM and the like.

    Lastly, we can’t really write one note that address the myriad “next steps” once you get past the notion that ERP users still need MDM. Though the end state may be shared (we all need to govern that information that yields greatest business outcome), every organizations’ next step will be dependent on their specific last step. Hence the power of inquiry and consulting . I hope this helps, even if it does not offer a single, definitive answer. Let me know. Thanks again, Andrew.

  3. Pieter Post says:

    Hi Andrew, thank you for answering my question.

    For sure your answer helps, and I will have a look into the articles you have written to get more insight into this interesting topic!

    Thanks again, and I will keep you posted on my findings.



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