A few weeks ago I read a blog post by Seth Godin and it hit me like a ton of bricks: Records management is a skeuomorph. I confess, I had never heard of the term “skeuomorphism” until just a few months ago. I learned the word via blogs and tech articles discussing design trends in mobile.
What is a skeuomorph? A simple definition (courtesy of academic George Basalla, via Wikipedia) is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.”
In other words, every time we pick up an iPad and download our digital “book” on an electronic “shelf” painted with virtual wood stain – we are engaging with a skeuomorph – like this one:
Since joining Forrester this year, I’ve had the opportunity to get briefed on the RM offerings of many ECM and information governance vendors, and with just a few exceptions, there are some unmistakable common threads I see across products. Top of that list? A user experience that has lifted the paradigm of paper and plopped it on top of an electronic records repository.
Ten years ago, open source software (OSS) was more like a toy for independent software vendors (ISVs) in China: Only the geeks in R&D played around with it. However, the software industry has been developing quickly in China throughout the past decade, and technology trends such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), business process management (BPM), cloud computing, the mobile Internet, and big data are driving much broader adoption of OSS.
OSS has become a widely used element of firms’ enterprise architecture. For front-end application architecture on the client side, various open source frameworks, such as jQuery and ExtJS, have been incorporated into many ISVs’ front-end frameworks. On the server side, OSS like Node.js is becoming popular for ISVs in China for high Web throughput capabilities. From an infrastructure and information architecture perspective, open source offerings like Openstack, Cloudstack, and Eucalyptus have been piloted by major telecom carriers including China Telecom and China Unicom, as well as information and communication solution providers like Huawei and IT service providers like CIeNET. To round this out, many startup companies are developing solutions based on MongoDB, an open source NoSQL database.
Familiarity with OSS is becoming a necessary qualification for software developers and product strategy professionals. Because of the wide usage of OSS among both vendors and end users, working experience and extensive knowledge with OSS is becoming a necessary qualification not only for software engineers, but also an important factors for product strategy professionals to establish appropriate product road maps and support their business initiatives.
Back in October 2011, Microsoft named the initiative to introduce Windows Azure cloud platform into the Chinese market “Moon Cake,” which represents harmony and happiness in Chinese culture. On May 23, 2013, Microsoft made the announcement in Shanghai that Windows Azure will be available in Chinese market starting on June 6 — almost half a year after its agreement with Shanghai government and 21ViaNet to operate Windows Azure together last November. Chinese customers will finally be able to “taste” this foreign moon cake.
I believe that a new chapter of cloud is going to be written by a new ecosystem in China market, and Microsoft will be the leader of this disruption. My reasons:
The cloud market in China will be more disrupted. Due to the regulatory limitations on data center and related telecom value-added services operations for foreign players, the cloud market for both infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has been an easy battlefield for local players, such as Alibaba/HiChina. Microsoft’s innovative way working with both government and local service partners to break through this “great wall” shows all of the major global giants, such as Amazon.com, the great opportunity from this approach to the Chinese market. We can anticipate that they will also enter the Chinese market in the coming six to 18 months.
Earlier this month I attended IBM Impact in Las Vegas where the software vendor announced new enhancements and features for their BPM suite product. On the face of it, the announcement sounded a bit underwhelming, with heavy emphasis on updating core functionality that was needed to remain competitive in the market. However, one bullet in the announcement stood out:
“Significant enhancements to the IBM BPM built-in dashboards to help improve business process outcomes and enable the creation of custom dashboards.”
The healthcare industry is undergoing transformation. What’s driving this? A wide range of factors, from new regulations and government programs, to new treatments and approaches, to perpetually rising costs. To thrive in this environment, , Forrester believes healthcare providers and payers must embrace four critical imperatives that will provide the most transformational impact:
The Age of the Customer. Health insurance has historically focused on plans and subscribers, and healthcare providers on patients in treatment. But both of these industries – like many others, are now seeing the need to be Customer-centric, and to engage their customers in a holistic and personalized way.
Mobile engagement. These customers use mobile as an extension of their daily life. Smart healthcare providers and payers are using this to provide services to keep their customers healthy, not just treat them when they come to a clinic.
Insights through Big Data and analytics. To engage these customers, healthcare firms needs more insights into who they are, how they live, and how best to serve them. Enter the opportunities provided by the confluence of Big Data, Social, Open Data, predictive analytics and smart business processes.
Digital disruption. Healthcare is big business, dominated by big firms. But at the other end of the spectrum are nimble innovators with mobile apps, health monitoring devices and social tools. Are they competitors or potential partners? How should these big firms bring digital disruption techniques into their business?
There are multiple maturity models and associated assessments for Data Governance on the market. Some are from software vendors, or from consulting companies, which use these as the basis for selling services. Others are from professional groups like the one from the Data Governance Council.
They are all good – but frankly not adequate for the data economy many companies are entering into. I think it is useful to reshuffle some too well established ideas...
Maturity models in general are attractive because:
- Using a maturity model is nearly a ‘no-brainer’ exercise. You run an assessment and determine your current maturity level. Then you can make a list of the actions which will drive you to the next level. You do not need to ask your business for advice, nor involve too many people for interviews.
- Most data governance maturity models are modeled on the very well known CMMI. That means that they are similar at least in terms of structure/levels. So the debate between the advantages of one vs another is limited to its level of detail.
But as firms move into the data economy – with what this means for their sourcing, analyzing and leveraging data, I think that today’s maturity models for data governance are becoming less relevant – and even an impediment:
There is a shift underway with master data management (MDM) that can't be ignored. It is no longer good enough to master domains in a silo and think of MDM as an integration tool. First-generation implementations have provided success to companies seeking to manage duplication, establishing a master definition, and consolidating data into a data warehouse. All good things. However, as organizations embrace federated environments and put big data architectures into wider use, these built-for-purpose MDM implementations are too narrowly focused and at times as rigid as the traditional data management platforms they support.
Yet, it doesn't have to be that way. By nature, MDM is meant to provide flexibility and elasticity to managing both single and multiple master domains. First, MDM has to be redefined from a data integration tool to a data modeling tool. Then, MDM is better aligned to business patterns and information needs, as it is designed by business context.
Enter The Golden Profile
When the business wants to put master data to use it is about how to have a view of a domain. The business doesn't think in terms of records, it thinks about using the data to improve customer relationships, grow the business, improve processes, or any host of other business tasks and objectives. A golden profile fits this need by providing the definition and framework that flexes to deliver master data based on context. It can do so because it is driven by data relationships.
The InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards recognize excellent EA programs — ones that due to their business focus, and strategic yet pragmatic orientation, provide sustained value to their business. I caught up with two of our 2012 winners to find out what they have been doing in the year since their award submission. I was specifically interested in hearing:
Have there been changes to business strategy or IT strategy since one year ago that they’ve had to respond to?
What would they say has been their greatest accomplishment over the past year?
The priorities for their EA programs today — changes in the scope, mission, or organization?
What would they say is a key learning of their EA program, or the larger IT organization about making EA effective?
I met with a group of clients recently on the evolution of data management and big data. One retailer asked, “Are you seeing the business going to external sources to do Big Data?”
My first reaction was, “NO!” Yet, as I thought about it more and went back to my own roots as an analyst, the answer is most likely, “YES!”
Ignoring nomenclature, the reality is that the business is not only going to external sources for big data, but they have been doing it for years. Think about it; organizations that have considered data a strategic tool have invested heavily in big data going back to when mainframes came into vogue. More recently, banking, retail, consumer packaged goods, and logistics have marquis case studies on what sophisticated data use can do.
Before Hadoop, before massive parallel processing, where did the business turn? Many have had relationships with market research organizations, consultancies, and agencies to get them the sophisticated analysis that they need.
Think about the fact, too, that at the beginning of social media, it was PR agencies that developed the first big data analysis and visualization of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook influence. In a past life, I worked at ComScore Networks, an aggregator and market research firm analyzing and trending online behavior. When I joined, they had the largest and fastest growing private cloud to collect web traffic globally. Now, that was big data.
Today, the data paints a split picture. When surveying IT across various surveys, social media and online analysis is a small percentage of business intelligence and analytics that is supported. However, when we look to the marketing and strategy clients at Forrester, there is a completely opposite picture.
As the analyst covering all things emerging information technology, I spend a bit of time watching web and social feeds looking for interesting and potentially disruptive stuff. Fortunately, it’s a good time for me to be doing this, as there are all kinds of things going on. I’ve decided to pass some of the best on to my readers in periodic “What’s Cooking” posts.
Digital currency will turn retail and financial services on its head, eventually. Digital currency fascinates me, especially the enigmatic Bitcoin creator and its so far unbreakable code*. Also the way you have to mine for more coins is very interesting. Whether or not Bitcoin succeeds as the de facto standard, I think digital currency is inevitable and the more firms that accept is, the crazier things will get. Check out The Antisocial Network of Bitcoins.