Business Design Patterns: Myth Or Reality?

Gordon Barnett

The other day, I had one of those eureka-like moments. As I lay in the bath, my thoughts shifted back and forth between the past and the present, recognizing how advances (or the lack of advances) in technology have affected our lives. When thinking about the past, I remember the days of my communication engineering apprenticeship; this was in the days of electro-mechanical exchanges. Some of you may remember or may have seen, in an old film, a telephone operator connecting two phone lines by placing a connecting cord between two phone line jacks. This was the world of telecommunication exchanges in the 1970s — no fancy computing technology existed in telecommunications at the time. In was certainly not a trivial exercise in upgrading capacity, maintaining the exchange, or connecting to another exchange. When thinking about the present, I marvel at the continuing improvements in plug-and-play hardware and software technology. As an example, I buy a new camera and, hey presto! I now have the ability to edit and post pictures on forums or cloud applications, to send them by email, or to store them on third-party storage from my camera.

So back to my eureka-like moment. I’m thinking that, surely, all these present-day technology advances have been enabled because of standards, design patterns, and common interfaces. My mind keeps focusing on design patterns, and the question arises: "Is there such a thing as business design patterns?" I have done some initial research, and I am yet to find evidence of the term or concept of business design patterns. However, I do have my suspicions they exist because:

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Data Science And "Closed-Loop" Analytics Changes Master Data Strategy

Michele Goetz
I had a conversation recently with Brian Lent, founder, chairman, and CTO of Medio. If you don’t know Brian, he has worked with companies such as Google and Amazon to build and hone their algorithms and is currently taking predictive analytics to mobile engagement. The perspective he brings as a data scientist not only has ramifications for big data analytics, but drastically shifts the paradigm for how we architect our master data and ensure quality.
 
We discussed big data analytics in the context of behavior and engagement. Think shopping carts and search. At the core, analytics is about the “closed loop.” It is, as Brian says, a rinse and repeat cycle. You gain insight for relevant engagement with a customer, you engage, then you take the results of that engagement and put them back into the analysis.
 
Sounds simple, but think about what that means for data management. Brian provided two principles:
  • Context is more important than source.
  • You need to know the customer.
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Visionary companies are driving next generation enterprise architecture in China – are you ready?

Charlie Dai

For the past ten years, the major IT initiative within Chinese organizations has been service oriented and/or process driven architecture.  The pace of change has been slow for two reasons: 1) From an end user perspective, related business requirements are not clear or of high priority; 2) more importantly,  solutions providers have not been ready to embrace  technology innovation and  meet emerging technology requirements through new business models.

Times are changing. IBM and other major ISV/SI in China (as well as end users) are driving momentum around emerging technology, such as cloud and enterprise mobility.  I recently attended the IBM Technical Summit 2013 in Beijing from July 11 to 12.  Here’s what I learned:

  • Telecom carriers supported by technology vendors will accelerate cloud adoption by SME.  Contributing to more than 60% of total GDP in China, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have always sought to simplify their IT operation as much as possible, and at the same time scale it up when business expands as quickly as possible. IaaS solutions appear to be a perfect match for SMEs; however IT professionals have concerns about the security and data privacy over the operations by other companies.
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Enable business strategy through technology innovation

Charlie Dai

How is it possible for a local company to defeat global giants like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Watsons in your market segment and establish market leadership for more than a decade? The answer is given by Nongfu Spring, a Chinese company in manufacturing and retail industries. In my recent report “Case Study: Technology Innovation Enables Nongfu Spring To Strengthen Market Leadership”, I analyzed the key factors behind their success, and provide related best practice from enterprise architecture perspective. These factors include

  • Business strategy is enterprise architecture's top priority.  EA pros often need to be involved in project-level IT activities to resolve issues and help IT teams put out fires. But it's much more important that architects have a vision, clearly understand the business strategy, and thoroughly consider the appropriate road map that will support it in order to be able to address the root causes of challenges.
  • Agile infrastructure sets up the foundation for scalable business growth. Infrastructure scalability is the basis of business scalability. Infrastructure experts should consider not only the agility that virtualization and IaaS solutions will provide next-generation infrastructure, but also network-level load balancing among multiple telecom carriers. They should also refine the network topology for enterprise security.
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Make Story-Telling The Goal Of Customer MDM

Michele Goetz

It is easy to get caught up in the source and target paradigm when implementing master data management. The logical model looms large to identify where master data resides for linkage and makes the project -- well -- logical.

If this is the first step in your customer MDM endeavor and creating a master data definition based on identifying relevant data elements, STOP!

The first step is to articulate the story that customer MDM will support. This is the customer MDM blueprint.  

For example, if the driving business strategy is to create a winning customer experience, customer MDM puts the customer definition at the center of what the customer experience looks like. The customer experience is the story. You need to understand and have data points for elements such as preferences, sentiment, lifestyle, and friends/relationships. These elements may be available within your CRM system, in social networks, with partners, and third-party data providers. The elements may be discrete or derived from analytics. If you only look for name, address, phone, and email, there is nothing about this definition that helps determine how you place that contact into context of engagement.

Ultimately, isn’t that what the business is asking for when they want the promised 360-degree view of the customer? Demands for complete, relevant, and timely are not grounded in the databases, data dictionaries, and integration/transformation processes of your warehouses and applications; they are grounded in the story. 

So, don’t start with the data. Start with the story you want to tell.

Last Call For Survey Participation: Help Us Track The Trends In Records And Information Management

Cheryl McKinnon

I'm really pleased to be working with ARMA International -- the not-for-profit industry association representing professionals in the fields of information management, records management, compliance, and library/archives. This is the fifth year that Forrester and ARMA have jointly developed a survey to take the pulse of the profession. We're interested in understanding the top challenges, trends, buying patterns, and professional development issues in this space. As the practice of records management evolves into "information governance" and a digital-first perspective, data and insights are needed to help individuals and solution providers to make this transition.

We're interested in tracking how this market has evolved over the past five years. How are records and information managers coping with rising cloud adoption? How closely is the alignment with IT decision-makers when budgets are planned and software is acquired? How are organizations keeping pace with social media records? Can't wait to see the year-over-year trends!

If you are the decision-maker for records management initatives in your organization, please help us by taking this survey before end of day Friday, July 12. If you're not the right person -- please pass along the link to your colleagues that are!

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes and is found here: https://forrester.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1TVMsFacIFQIHaZ&Preview=Survey&BrandID=forrester.

Thanks to all of those who choose to participate!

Cheryl.

Cross-fit Data Program

Michele Goetz

I’ve been presenting research on big data and data governance for the past several months where I show a slide of a businesswoman doing a backbend to access data in her laptop. The point I make is that data management has to be hyper-flexible to meet a wider range of analytic and consumption demands than ever before. Translated, you need to cross-train for data management to have cross-fit data.

The challenge is that traditional data management takes a one-size fits-all approach. Data systems are purpose built. If organizations want to reuse a finance warehouse for marketing and sales purposes, it often isn’t a match and a new warehouse is built. If you want to get out of this cycle and go from data couch potato to data athlete, a cross-fit data training program should focus on:

Context first. Understanding how data is used and will provide value drives platform design. Context indicates more than where data is sourced from and where it will be delivered. Context answers: operations or analytics, structured or unstructured, persistent or disposable? These guide decisions around performance, scale, sourcing, cost, and governance.

Data governance zones. Command and control data governance creates a culture of “no” that stifles innovation and can cause the business to go around IT for data needs. The solution is to create policies and processes that give permission as well as mitigate risk. Loosen quality and security standards in projects and scenarios that are in contained environments. Tighten rules and create gates when called for by regulation, where there are ethical conflicts, or when data quality or access exposes the business to significant financial risk.

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CMIS 1.1 Approved — OASIS Standard For ECM Interoperability Evolves And Gains Traction

Cheryl McKinnon

Today OASIS announced official approval of version 1.1 of the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standard. OASIS is the nonprofit, international consortium behind many of the key technology standards in areas related to information management, cloud, privacy, and security.

I’ve been keenly watching the development and adoption of CMIS since its early beginnings in 2006 as an idea incubated by the AIIM iECM standards committee, and then moved to the stewardship of OASIS in 2008, once a critical mass of major vendor support had coalesced. Interoperability has always been an important requirement for ECM systems, not only because most large organizations have multiple systems, often from different vendors, but because business content needs to move, flow, and be accessible to many other essential line-of-business applications.

Interoperability is also finding renewed purpose as content management moves to the cloud, and content must be accessible to users, devices, and apps regardless of whether it is stored on-premises or in a hosted repository. According to the OASIS press release, “CMIS frees content trapped in traditional ‘content silos’ and facilitates ‘content in the cloud’ and mobile computing.”

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Digital Disruption Via Big Data — Coming To Your Neighborhood Soon!

Brian  Hopkins

I had the privilege of watching the recent NSA surveillance story unfold from my hotel room in London this June. Seeing the story from a decidedly non-American viewpoint got me thinking a bit differently about the implications for our society. From my point of view — no matter how you define the squishy and now beat-to-death “big data” concept — the NSA story has moved it from something “they use” to something that is uncomfortably close to where we live our lives. In other words, big data just moved in next door and is peeking over our fences into our living rooms. Eeek.

There are lots of socio-political issues with this, and I’m not even going to go there. However, the way that I see it, this incident will ultimately create a lot of opportunity for businesses savvy enough to get ahead of it the can of worms now squirming in our laps.

I think one of two things is going to happen. Either: 1) the US general public will shrug and go back to business as usual and this story will die, or 2) the public outrage will demand governmental oversight and accountability resulting in a tightening of our legal system. The latter case would be an example of how digital disruption, a topic we have written and blogged about for a while, is not just a business thing. It’s a cultural phenomenon that will rock our society for a long time.

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Is Skeuomorphism Holding Back The Evolution Of Records Management Technology?

Cheryl McKinnon

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:

 

Image Source: Apple.com

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.

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