The year 2020 could be very special – or not so much. 2020 will be cool for a couple of reasons. The Roman numerals are MMXX; 2020 is a leap year, and will be the twentieth year of both the 3rd millennium and the 21st century. 2020 is the first year of the new decade. The next time the century and the decade year will be the same—2121—is 101 years away, and will only happen less than ten more times. You get my point: it’s all in the data.
The year 2020 may be significant for other reasons too. 2020 will be known for the planned launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission to study the habitability of red planet; the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; and 2020 is the year Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the U.S. twenty-dollar bill. The year 2020 is not that far away. We should be planning for 2020. We should be planning for Data 2020.
Data 2020 is a term I use for the condition of our data in the year 2020. The year 2020 allows us reasonable time to put together and act on an action plan directed at improving the quality, value and protection of our data. Presently, data sources are growing faster than our skills to manage all of this data.
Get Data Right by 2020
People say that hindsight is 20/20. This means that we tend to have perfect understanding of an event after an event has taken place. In the case of data and the year 2020, looking back with hindsight will be a very perilous thing. The truth is that 2020 is an important year for another reason – I will add a data-spin, because—you know—it’s all in the data.
In 2020, there will be people accountable for demonstrating the results of their organization’s 5 Year Plan (that began in 2016) to improve their “data situation.” Chief Data Officers have been groomed and hired. Chief Information Officers are attending to expanded information and data responsibilities. Big Data and Smart Data are the hottest technical topics today. Analytics and Data Science are all the rage. All of these things demand that our organizations emphasize the need to “get data right” and address all dimensions of data quality.
What will Data 2020 mean to your organization? I am glad you asked. There are three specific activities that must be planned for and executed to perfection in order to improve your organization’s chances of getting your data right by the year 2020.
The three activities that must happen:
- Data Governance Must Be Put in Place
- Metadata Must Be Managed
- Data Must Be King
1. Data Governance Must Be Put in Place
Data Governance is the execution and enforcement of authority over the management of data. No matter what approach you use to implement data governance, the result must be the same—people must be held formally accountable for their relationship to data.
People that use data must understand how they can and cannot use data. There are laws and rules associated with handling and sharing data. You know there are laws associated with protecting your personal and health information. You know there are rules for handling Intellectual Property. The only way to assure that PII, PHI and IP data and information is protected and secured is to formalize accountability for how people handle data.
People that produce data must understand and be held accountable for the quality of the data they produce. This accountability starts with the data producer understanding the importance and the value of the data they produce. This includes people entering data, bringing in new sources of data, integrating data sets; essentially, executing and enforcing authority over how the data is produced.
People that define data for the organization must be held accountable for how they define the data. That accountability includes providing business descriptions of the data, looking for existing data before defining another version of the same thing, and defining the rules associated with using the data.
The rules associated with executing and enforcing authority over the management of data typically focus on the people that define, produce, and use data. This practice is known as Data Governance. Data Governance must be formally put in place by 2020.
2. Metadata Must Be Managed
You have heard about metadata. If you follow the news, they seem to be using the term more and more. Please allow me to simplify it for you.
The definition of metadata is “data about data.” In the Eric Snowden case, metadata was the information about what phone calls he made, whom he made them to, when they took place, how often, and so on. Metadata stands as the basis on which all data is managed and understood. The metadata was not the data in the calls as much as the information about the calls. Metadata is the data about the data.
Think about it: how do we manage anything without data about that thing? How would we manage our personal finances or investments, our calling plans, our family life, or our insurance policies without data about these things? We access this personal data through the metadata we have about that data.
Now think about it from the perspective of managing all of the data that is owned or used by your organization. To effectively manage and maximize the value we get from the volume and variety of data our organization will deal with into the year 2020 and beyond, we will need to begin doing a better job of managing the metadata associated with that data. That is why I include metadata in the three activities that must happen by the year 2020.
3. Data Must Be King
The expression “Knowledge is King” is pretty common, especially in my circles. I named my consulting and education business after the expression (KIKConsulting.com), and there is a lot of truth to that statement. Knowledge is King—this statement is easy to comprehend.
However, in order to get to where knowledge is king, we must first get to where data is king. Data plus metadata is information. Information plus experience is knowledge. Most organizations are on a path to get where Data is King, but they are not there yet. This is the main reason why companies are planning for Data 2020.
Data discipline is the key to planning for 2020. Instilling data discipline from top to bottom in an organization will take time, appropriate know-how, and resources and commitment from Senior Leadership in order to be successful. Data management needs to be looked at differently from the top of the organization to the bottom. Data must be king in order for us to achieve the CDO vision by 2020.
The purpose of this short article was not to tell you all the great things that you will want to do with data by the year 2020. There are already people in your organization that are thinking about this. From Big Data, to Smart Data, to improving analytical and decision-making capabilities, the future is now—and someone is already thinking about this. That future requires that we have a plan for getting data right by 2020.
Getting your data right begins with managing people and holding people formally accountable for the definition, production, and usage of data across the organization. The three activities described briefly above will move the meter forward for the CDO and overall data intelligence of your organization. Best of luck getting your data right by 2020, and remember: it’s all in the data!