Blog post

Collibra “Data Citizens” Customer Conference 2016

By Andrew White | May 05, 2016 | 1 Comment

Information StewardshipInformation Risk ManagementInformation PolicyInformation GovernanceCollibraInformation TrustSecurity of Applications and Data

Collibra Data Citizen NY May 3-4 2016

I had the good fortune to be in the NY area this week and was therefore able to drop by Collibra’s first annual ‘data citizens’ customer conference.  All users of data are data citizens, according to Collibra.  And over 200 data citizens, those focused on all things data, information and analytical governance and stewardship, gathered at the Andez Hotel, Wall Street.

Overall it was a great first user conference from Collibra.  Collibra is a small vendor, originally focused on semantic modeling and discovery and more recently focused on building out what we call an information stewardship solution.

These solutions differ to the range of tools that already exist on the market in several ways.  First, information stewardship solutions are just that – purpose-built packaged applications as opposed to discrete tools often sourced via acquisitions.  So it’s not really a vendor issue; its a way in which the vendor goes about solving the clients challenges with respect to stewardship.

Additionally the target user is different: instead of the IT user (architect, data modeler, data integration leader etc.) these solutions are designed for business users (supply chain planner, merchandiser, customer service rep etc.) who operates in the role of information stewardship.  Finally, the capability needed to support stewardship  focuses on what the steward needs to do to support policy enforcement.  This differs from the broader governance aspects that tend to focus in policy analysis and setting and more glaringly different from normal work related to data maintenance, entry or execution.

Apparently registrations closed before the conference took place and exceeded Collibra’s expectations, close to 250.  On the day it was reported that about 220 were present at the opening keynote.  The attendees were made up of mostly clients of Collibra, with a small number of prospects (that I could discern), partners and consultants.  Some of the sponsors and partners I spotted included:

  • Lumen Data
  • First San Francisco Partners
  • ITI data (was Incandescence Data)
  • DIG Consulting (very SharePoint focused)
  • Knowledgent
  • Global IDs

The keynote was kicked off by co-founder and CEO Felix Van De Maele. If you don’t know Felix you will recognize his youthful and passionate enthusiasm for all things data.  He recently moved over from Brussels to New York, with the rest of the management team, though official legal headquarters for Collibra remains in Brussels.

His opening remakes were modest but enthusiastic as he outlined the challenges many firms face in the area of information, data and analytic governance, including the new hyped focused on big data governance.

Felix shared the results of the recent growth of the company and and short-term plans for Collibra.  It seems the vendor is growing at a clip, adding over 40 new client in the last six months and doubling its sales team and overall headcount in the last year.

After his and an external keynote, and the unveiling of a new logo (not yet on their website!), there followed a client panel.  Here are some notes and comments I heard or noted during the panel; and some other pointers I noted during the event.

Felix’s Keynote:

  • Trust your data (is an issue)
  • Data never sleeps
  • We are in midst of data revolution
  • Governance will drive business advantage, not just cover our backs for compliance etc.
  • All users are data citizens
  • Market waking up
  • New logo unveiled
  • Collibra version 5 road map to be shared later today; input sought from attendees in various workshops (nice to see) Every one of 150 head count at Collibra known as a Collibrians

Customer panel:

  • Amanda Eastman VP data governance Flagstar Bank, Troy Michigan.  1500 stewards.
  • John Fleming head of enterprise governance BNY Mellon didn’t make it
  • Ronald Layne manager data quality and governance George Washington University
  • Lisa Sikkema project portfolio manager and data governance coordinator Priory Health


Some best practices or conclusions from the panel and other sessions/dialog through the day and a half:

  • Technology needs to be so easy and embedded into normal business processes.  Now part of new hire training.
  • Marketing is important. Advocacy helps.
  • Interview business uses and ask ‘why don’t you trust the data?’
  • Need your best users since they need to know the business implications.  Means you can make a decision and policy first time.
  • Data producers are different to the consumers.  How do they know their dependency?  Education.  Message.  Explain.
  • Only govern that which matters!
  • Don’t try to govern everything.
  • Every Time we document what we think we do or what we measure, we realize gaps and differences between the expected behavior and the observed behavior.
  • Formalize job description and recognize and award good stewardship/behavior Just start.  No such thing as a perfect plan.
  • Scope appropriately; most likely small but big impact

Some survey’s during the conference:



Figure 1: What was the initial driver for your data governance effort?  Winner: MDM (just).




Figure 2: How Sophisticated/broad is your data governance program?





Figure 3: What is the next focus for your data governance program?  More MDM and a few other bits and bobs!

It was a good day or so, lots of enthusiastic Collibra clients, and a lot of talk of making information governance work to get more value for the business.





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1 Comment

  • Thank you for this piece, Andrew. Collibra is a key component of our specialized Enterprise Information Management consulting and implementation services practice. Interestingly, we met with them 3 years ago at your Gartner MDM Summit and became one of the trusted Collibra partners, with clients like Union Bank, NCR, Wells Fargo etc.
    It seems like we missed talking to you in the “partner village”. We would very much appreciate if you could add our name to the list of sponsors/partners.
    Our unique offering with Collibra has been the integration with Oracle Enterprise Data Quality (EDQ) to provide DQ visibility to all business stakeholders. We spoke about this solution on the Wednesday morning session with another customer of ours Charles Schwab & Co. Would be happy to provide you with a white paper if you are interested.