A recent survey of Enterprise Architects showed a lack of standards for data management.* Best practices has always been about the creation of standards for IT, which would lead us to think that lack of standards for data management is a gap.
Not so fast.
Standards can help control cost. Standards can help reduce complexity. But, in an age when a data management architecture needs to flex and meet the business need for agility, standards are a barrier. The emphasis on standards is what keeps IT in a mode of constant foundation building, playing the role of deli counter, and focused on cost management.
In contrast, when companies throw off the straight jacket of data management standards the are no longer challenged by the foundation. These organizations are challenged by ceilings. Top performing organizations, those that have had annual growth above 15%, are working to keep the dam open and letting more data in and managing more variety. They are pushing the envelope on the technology that is available.
Think about this. Overall, organizations have made similar data management technology purchases. What has separated top performers from the rest of organizations is by not being constrained. Top performers maximize and master the technology they invest in. They are now better positioned to do more, expand their architecture, and ultimately grow data value. For big data, they have or are getting ready to step out of the sandbox. Other organizations have not seen enough value to invest more. They are in the sand trap.
Standards can help structure decisions and strategy, but they should never be barriers to innovation.
*203 Enterprise Architecture Professionals, State of Enterprise Architecture Global Survey Month,2012
**Top performer organization analysis based on data from Forrsights Strategy Spotlight BI And Big Data, Q4 2012
In light of my expectations (http://goo.gl/ZIU9d), Mobile World Congress contained few real surprises this year. This is not to say that MWC was boring: It provided valuable insights into the state of the mobile market from an enterprise perspective:
No single theme dominated. However, it felt as if everybody was talking about some combination of cloud, mobility, and big data. Many providers and vendors added the theme of customer experience to the mix and seasoned it with many acronyms. Unfortunately, in most cases this was not enough to trigger real excitement. The lack of a single new hot trend indicates that the mobile industry is maturing. Mobility has arrived center stage.
Most vendors are addressing consumerization only in the context of BYOD. In my view, BYOD is only one aspect of consumerization. I believe we will see the broader impact of consumerization in the near future. Consumers increasingly expect to work in a manner reflecting communication methods that are familiar in the context of friends and family. Also, consumers are increasingly asking to work when and where they want. Although some companies, including Yahoo (good luck!), are reintroducing the traditional concept of "the team works in the office," the overall trend is toward a more fragmented and consumerized working environment. In turn, this offers potential for mobile workplace solutions.
. . . Nor has it ever really been. Government data has long been a part of strategic business analysis. Census data provides insights into local standards of living and household budgets, health needs, education levels, and other factors that influence buying patterns for all kinds of goods and services. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labour Organization provide data on employment and the availability of skilled labor that helps inform decisions on where to locate manufacturing or other facilities. The World Bank and UN data provides insights into global trends.
Moreover, the release of government data has itself spurred billion-dollar industries. Think weather data released in the 1970s by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – which gave birth to the weather industry and services like Accuweather, weather.com, wunderground, and newer services like ikitesurf.com’s “wind and where.” Data from the US Global Positioning System (GPS) was opened to civilian and commercial use in the 1980s and has given rise to thousands of location-based services. Think FourSquare, Yelp, and Where’s The Bus?
As an analyst who focuses on the future of communications and the implications for business, I will travel to Mobile World Congress (MWC) with several expectations:
There will be a greater focus on business solutions, not just hardware and software exhibits. OK, in many respects, this is probably more of a hope of mine than an expectation. MWC visitors will still encounter hall after hall of software and hardware. Still, I expect many exhibitors, including device players like Samsung, to show a growing awareness by focusing more on actual end user business needs, including a vertical perspective.
Consumerization as a focus area is just heating up. The information workforce is fragmenting. Information workers will increasingly expect to work in a flexible framework. Forrester’s research highlights significant differences in communication and collaboration behavior between age groups. Social media — the communication channel of choice for those now entering the workforce — brings big challenges for businesses in the areas of procurement, compliance, human resources, and IT. However, I expect these themes to be addressed mostly superficially at MWC.
The merger of big data, mobility, and cloud computing is recognised as a large business opportunity. Mobility by itself only scratches the surface of the opportunities in areas like customer interaction, go-to-market dynamics, charging, and product development, which are emerging in combination with big data and cloud computing. I expect providers like SAP to touch on several aspects of this trend. The momentum is supported by the trend toward software-defined networking.
Reflections from the 10th Safer Internet Day Conference in Berlin, February 5th 2013
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Safer Internet Day Conference in Berlin, organized by the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and BITKOM, the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunication and New Media. The conference title, ‘Big Data – Gold Mine or Dynamite?’ set the scene; after my little introductory speech on what big data really means and why this is a relevant topic for all of us (industry, consumers, and government), the follow-up presentations pretty much focused either on the ‘gold mine’ or the ‘dynamite’ aspect. To come straight to the point: I was very surprised, if not slightly shocked at how deep a gap became visible between the industry on the one side and the government (mainly the data protection authorities) on the other side.
While industry representatives, spearheaded by the BITKOM president Prof. Dieter Kempf and speakers from IBM, IMS Health, SAS, and others, highlighted interesting showcases and future opportunities for big data, Peter Schaar, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, seemed to be on a crusade to protect ‘innocent citizens’ from the ‘baddies’ in the industry.
This Forrester-moderated panel of top security executives from Allergan, Zappos and Humana will discuss the impact of scale in solving Big Security challenges. Issues from the importance of scale in detecting advanced threats to benefits to the average user will be debated. Drawing on their experiences, these experts will share their views on why scale matters in the era of big data.
David Hannigan, Zappos, Information Security Officer
Stephen Moloney, Humana Inc., Manager, Enterprise Information Security
Jerry Sto. Tomas, Allergan, Inc., Director, IS Global Information Security
Predicting what malware will look like five years from now requires more than a crystal ball. In order to fully understand future threats and challenges, you need a finger on the broader pulse of technological innovation. Our panel of esteemed experts will attempt to guide a better understanding of where we may need to target our defensive efforts in the coming months and years.
Data management is becoming critical as organizations seek to better understand and target their customers, drive out inefficiency, and satisfy government regulations. Despite this, the maturity of data management practices at companies in China is generally poor.
I had an enlightening conversation with my colleague, senior analyst Michele Goetz, who covers all aspects of data management. She told me that in North America and Europe, data management maturity varies widely from company to company; only about 5% have mature practices and a robust data management infrastructure. Most organizations are still struggling to be agile and lack measurement, even if they already have data management platforms in place. Very few of them align adequately with their specific business or information strategy and organizational structure.
If we look at data management maturity in China, I suspect the results are even worse: that fewer than 1% of the companies are mature in terms of integrated strategy, agile execution and continuous performance measurement. Specifically:
The practice of data management is still in the early stages. Data management is not only about simply deploying technology like data warehousing or related middleware, but also means putting in place the strategy and architectural practice, including contextual services and metadata pattern modeling, to align with business focus. The current focus of Chinese enterprises for data management is mostly around data warehousing, master data management, and basic support for both end-to-end business processes and composite applications for top management decision-making. It’s still far from leveraging the valuable data in business processes and business analytics.
William Shakespeare wrote that “What’s past is prologue.” Big data surely builds on our rich past of using data to understand our world, our customers, and ourselves. Now the world is flush and getting flusher in big data from cloud, mobile, and the Internet of things. What does it mean for enterprises? In a word: opportunity. Firms have taken to big data. Here are my four predictions for key enterprise big data themes in 2013:
Firms will realize that “big data” means all of their data. Big data is the frontier of a firm’s ability to store, process, and access (SPA) all of the data it needs to operate effectively, make decisions, reduce risks, and create better customer experiences. The key word in the definition of big data is frontier. Many think that big data is only about data stored in Hadoop. Not true. Big data is not defined by how it is stored. It can and will continue to reside in all kinds of data architectures, including enterprise data warehouses, application databases, file systems, cloud storage, Hadoop, and others. By the way, some predict the end of the data warehouse — but that’s nonsense. If anything, all forms of data technology will evolve and be necessary to handle the frontier of big data. In 2013, all data is big data.
Rowan Curran, Research Associate and TechnoPolitics producer, hosts this episode to ask me (your regular host) about The Pragmatic Definition Of Big Data. Listen (5 mins) to hear the genesis of this new definition of big data and why it is pragmatic and actionable for both business and IT professionals.
Podcast: The Pragmatic Definition Of Big Data Explained (5 mins)