Data Quality Reboot Series For Big Data: Part 1 Master Data

Michele Goetz

What data do you trust? Increasingly, business stakeholders and data scientists trust the information hidden in the bowels of big data. Yet, how data is mined mostly circumvents existing data governance and data architecture due to speed of insight required and support data discovery over repeatable reporting.

The key to this challenge is a data quality reboot: rethink what matters, and rethink data governance.

Part 1 of our Data Quality Reboot Series is to rethink master data management (MDM) in a big data world.

Current thinking: Master data as a single data entity. A common theme I hear from clients is that master data is about the linked data elements for a single record. No duplication or variation exists to drive consistency and uniqueness. Master data in the current thinking represents a defined, named entity (customer, supplier, product, etc.). This is a very static view of master data and does not account for the various dimensions required for what is important within a particular use case. We typically see this approach tied tightly to an application (customer resource management, enterprise resource management) for a particular business unit (marketing, finance, product management, etc.). It may have been the entry point for MDM initiatives, and it allowed for smaller scope tangible wins. But, it is difficult to expand that master data to other processes, analysis, and distribution points. Master data as a static entity only takes you so far, regardless of whether big data is incorporated into the discussion or not.

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Is Duct Tape Holding Together Your Data Architecture?

Michele Goetz

Let’s face it: managing data is not an easy task. The business certainly wishes, and may even think, that this is the case. So, we cut corners on fulfilling data requirements to meet short-term demands. We lay aside more strategic investment that would best support our strategies, have a wider value across the business, and build toward a proper foundation for the long term.

Today, our data architecture gets held together with duct tape. Even if we have used the new “pretty” duct tape that comes in colors, camouflage, and animal patterns, it is still duct tape.

What we are now faced with is more data silos, inconsistency in data quality, and challenges to provide a single view of your business. Investments made to provide a strong data foundation have either withered behind business as usual or have been collecting cobwebs from lack of use. I call this data technical debt, and it is holding your business back both in getting information the business needs and allowing for agility to meet the increasing variety of use cases.

To move forward, what are things we can do?

1.      Make sure there is a strong vision for a desired state.

2.     Recognize milestones needed to achieve the desired state.

3.     Continuously align project requests to milestones to ensure progress is made on the vision.

4.     Align and consolidate projects with similar milestone contributions to expand the value of vision widely and faster.

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The First Rule Of Big Data — Don't Talk About Big Data

Brian  Hopkins

I’ll be chairing Big Data World Europe on September 19 in London; in advance of that event, here are a few thoughts.

Since late 2011, we’ve seen the big data noise level eclipse cloud and even BYOD, and we are seeing the backlash too (see Death By Big Data, to which I tweeted, “Yes, I suppose, ‘too much of anything is a bad thing’”). The number one thing clients want to know is, “What is my competition doing? Give me examples I can talk to my business about.” These questions reflect a curiosity on the part of IT and a “peeking under the hood to see what’s there” attitude.

My advice is to start the big data journey with your feet on the ground and your head around what it really is. Here are some “rules” I’ve been using with folks I talk to:

First rule of big data: don’t talk about big data. The old adage holds true here — those that can do big data do it, those that can’t talk <yup, I see the irony :-)>. I was on the phone with a VP of analytics who reflected that her IT people were constantly bringing new technologies to them like a dog with a bone. Her general reaction is, show me the bottom-line value. So what to do? Instead of talking to your business about big data, find ways to solve problems more affordably with data at greater scale. Now that’s “doing big data.”

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Forrester Wave For Master Data Management — Enterprise, Big Data, Data Governance

Michele Goetz

As the new analyst on the block at Forrester, the first question everyone is asking is, “What research do you have planned?” Just to show that I’m up for the task, rather than keeping it simple with a thoughtful report on data quality best practices or a maturity assessment on data management, I thought I’d go for broke and dive into the master data management (MDM) landscape. Some might call me crazy, but this is more than just the adrenaline rush that comes from doing such a project. In over 20 inquiries with clients in the past month, questions show increased sophistication in how managing master data can strategically contribute to the business.

What do I mean by this?

Number 1: Clients want to know how to bring together transitional data (structured) and content (semi-structured and unstructured) to understand the customer experience, improve customer engagement, and maximize the value of the customer. Understanding customer touch points across social media, e-commerce, customer service, and content consumption provides a single customer view that lets you customize your interactions and be highly relevant to your customer. MDM is at the heart of bringing this view together.

Number 2: Clients have begun to analyze big data within side projects as a way to identify opportunities for the business. This intelligence has reached the point that clients are now exploring how to distribute and operationalize these insights throughout the organization. MDM is the point that will align discoveries within the governance of master data for context and use.

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From Our EA Community — Boiling Down Your BT Strategy To A Single Page

Brian  Hopkins

Last fall, a member of our enterprise architecture community asked a simple question — how do you represent IT strategy on a single page? What resulted was the most read and commented discussion to date. That got our attention! But what really piqued our interest was when another community participant challenged us to go beyond our usual publishing process to co-create a report with the community.

For those who have been following the discussion, it has been slow going, but I'm glad to say that we are done! What's more, we have decided to make this report available to everyone since much of the content came directly from the community. Please follow this link (www.forrester.com/btstrategyonapage) to request your copy if you are not a client (free site registration is required). Clients should go to our normal site to download the report.

In the research, we took the community contributions and created a toolkit in PowerPoint form containing seven examples of business technology (BT) strategy representation on a single "page." The lesson we learned is that there is no one right way to do it and you will probably need several one-pagers for different audiences.

Why title it BT and not IT? We started out with the notion of pure IT strategy, but quickly realized that the best one-pagers married business strategy with technology strategy. Ideally, these two should be co-created by business and technology leaders. Why? Because "aligned IT" can no longer keep up with the blinding pace of business change; it takes a business technology approach. Consider:

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Build A High-Performance EA Practice

Gene Leganza

As the pace of change continues to accelerate in an increasingly complex business environment, organizations need to thoroughly understand how their business operates and plan the technology-fueled business transformation they'll need in the future. Establishing this understanding and enabling the transition to the future state have always been the concerns of enterprise architecture programs, and EA has emerged as a critical practice for managing an enterprise's evolution.

But EA programs have existed for more than a decade, and most of them have fallen short of these lofty goals. Why? Old-school EA has been too tactical, too technology-centric, or too disengaged from business priorities to have significant impact. Enterprises need a high-performance approach to EA that is laser-focused on driving business outcomes. To plan their future, organizations have the following alternatives:

  • Try to get there without a formal EA program.Enterprises that have yet to initiate an EA program — or have abandoned their effort — are operating without a coherent plan to evolve toward a clearly articulated future state. The lack of an EA program may not derail business as usual, but business change is likely to occur in a siloed, uncoordinated fashion.
  • Stick with the status quo EA program.Highly skilled and knowledgeable architects typically staff EA programs. But resources are typically focused on project-level activities. Strategy work is likely to be about technology road maps — not business capabilities. Isolating technology planning from business planning maintains the old-school, arms-length relationship between IT and the business.
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E-Signature Market Continues To Gain Business And Investor Attention

Craig Le Clair

DocuSign, the best-known software-as-a-service (SaaS) brand for electronic signature, just received 47.5M in additional investor funding. According to execs, this will help accelerate growth internationally and include a UK-based data center as well as further internationalization on the signing capability. When signing documents in China, it is more than just a nice feature to have native signing and sending instructions.

The injection will also help build out more industry solutions and take on more of the complete transaction — something that will be required for long-term success for the e-signature market. As part of the investment, Kleiner Perkins' Mary Meeker will join the DocuSign board. Formerly of Morgan Stanley, Mary is well versed in mobile, Internet, and cloud-based markets, and may help cultivate partnerships with emerging lighter file-sharing and cloud-based content solutions — a natural trajectory for e-signature platforms to jump on their steep adoption curves. On the heels of Adobe's acquisition of EchoSign, this shows acceleration of the e-signature market and is consistent with adoption Forrester is seeing driven by mobile and customer engagement trends.

KANA To Acquire Sword — Gets Serious About Dynamic Case Management Market

Craig Le Clair

KANA Software is acquiring Sword Ciboodle — a Scottish case management and BPM company and a strong performer in Forrester's 2011 Wave™ on dynamic case management. The Ciboodle platform has a strong presence in the service request area of case management and scored particularly well in the application development, automation, and event management criteria. It also proved you can build best-in-class software while headquartered in a Scottish castle.

The acquisition makes a lot of sense. Both companies circle around the customer service area — with KANA focusing on the self-service channel with advanced email and knowledge strategies that leverage the social channel, and Voice of the Customer text analytics. All with the goal to reduce service costs by having customers help themselves — without going crazy in the process. But KANA had very little in contact centers themselves. Sword plugs this gap with over 50 customers in contact centers that use BPM and case management to provide a process layer on top of systems — where green screens are not uncommon. But Sword had virtually nothing for the email and self-service channels.

Together the acquisition will free up KANA's R&D. Instead of beefing up core BPM and case engines, and internal enterprise social capabilities, it can now focus on mobile apps and enhancing overall outside in "listening" capabilities. Geographically the acquisition helps as well. KANA was 70 percent North American, but with the addition of Euro-centric Sword is now closer to a 50/50 split between North America and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

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How To Keep Up With Reality In IT Planning

Alex Cullen

Uli Kalex from Alfabet, whom many of you know, has provided us with a guest post addressing one key fallacy which underlies much of IT’s work with their business. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment.

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As a mathematician and product manager, I strongly prefer the reliability of analysis over the uncertainty of gambling. That is why I like to go to Las Vegas . . . at least for the annual Forrester CIO and EA Forums. Thought and industry leaders from around the world get together and discuss the driving forces and challenges in IT management. As such, I experienced this year’s event as a real catalyst for discussions around the increased requirements and frustrations in IT planning — and a call to arms for IT leaders everywhere.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” He was talking about armed conflicts, but the statement holds a lot of truth for today’s businesses as well. In the business world, an unforeseen change can make even the most sophisticated plan obsolete overnight — be it a change in regulation, a budget cut, or a company acquisition. To survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and dynamic environment, businesses need an IT organization that shows a path to meet business objectives while being flexible and responsive enough to adapt as needed. Ultimately, the best route is always changing.

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Groupthink And The Problems Of Silos

Derek Miers

I think we would all agree that BPM and business architecture set out to overcome the issues associated with silos. And I think we would also agree that the problems associated with silos derive from functional decomposition.

While strategy development usually takes a broad, organizationwide view, so many change programs still cater to the suboptimization perspectives of individual silos. Usually, these individual change programs consist of projects that deal with the latest problem to rise to the top of the political agenda — effectively applying a band-aid to fix a broken customer-facing process or put out a fire associated with some burning platform.

Silo-based thinking is endemic to Western culture — it’s everywhere. This approach to management is very much a command-and-control mentality injected into our culture by folks like Smith, Taylor, Newton, and Descartes. Let’s face it: The world has moved on, and the network is now far more important than the hierarchy.

But guess what technique about 99.9% of us use to fix the problems associated with functional decomposition? You guessed it:  yet more functional decomposition . I think Einstein had something to say about using the same techniques and expecting different results. This is a serious groupthink problem!

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