I’m fortunate enough to be tracking two exciting, but vague and ill-defined markets that are becoming increasingly critical to large enterprises around the globe: master data management (MDM) and metadata management. Ask ten information management professionals what MDM and metadata means to them and you’ll likely receive 20 distinct answers. MDM usually involves some business-focused statement about achieving a single trusted view of a customer, product, or some other critical data, while IT typically looks at metadata to reduce complexity, and increase productivity, reuse, and collaboration, by having a single version of truth about their company’s “data about data.” To me, it seems there should be more synergies and collaboration between these currently siloed and disparate enterprise initiatives.
I believe in a close alignment for a number of reasons:
Something really big is happening. Many companies and even software vendors aren’t aware of it because they’re so busy trying to get their arms around content—put it in repositories, integrate the repositories, manage corporate records, get people to stop emailing documents around—that they’re way too busy to see the ground shifting underneath their feet. This groundswell is about putting content to work—and that means, quite simply, doing something with the content that’s being managed so it creates business advantage.
For years, enterprises, vendors, integrators, consultants and others (including me) have strived mightily to get content under control. It’s still a massive problem: there’s so much content — written documents, presentations, email, web pages, spreadsheets, graphics, videos, podcasts . . . the list goes on — and it’s in every filing cabinet, drawer, hard disk and memory stick. Even today, after years of investing in document imaging, document management, collaboration, and web content management systems, most content is not locked down, versioned and searchable using metadata or tags. But it’s time to move on — “simply” (that’s a laugh) managing content isn’t enough.
This week, the mainstream press reported that Microsoft made a Wikipedia “no-no”: Microsoft offered to pay an independent contributor — Rick Jelliffe — standards expert and the CTO at an Australian tech company — to investigate the accuracy of, and change, if necessary, technical articles about Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) on Wikipedia. ODF is an OASIS and ISO standard and Open XML is Microsoft’s alternative, currently an ECMA standard and potential ISO standard. Kyle McNabb and I were talking about this incident. Here are our thoughts:
Lotusphere was inspiring. The investment and effort that IBM Lotus has made in social computing with its announcement of Lotus Connections is visionary. Although learning is not a part of it in a formal way yet, it’s coming. I spent a number of hours in the Research Lab with researchers from all over the world looking at their ideas; some were more developed than others. These thinkers have taken the step forward in looking at learning as something that is informal, contextual, controlled by the employees, and available when employees need it so they can be successful at a task. 2007 will bring more developments and I’m betting that informal learning will be an important part of Lotusphere 2008. Of course, all this is going to require a culture change within organizations. Companies that encourage people to explore new technology for use as a business tool will be the first adopters. Those, for example, that still don’t allow IM most likely will watch from the sidelines. A knowledge management or collaboration evangelist or champion is important to get social computing started within an organization.