METAbits – July 2003

Published in TDAN.com July 2003

From The Principle’s Office: Information Management

Enterprise Analytics Strategies
Application Delivery Strategies

Many enterprises aptly have begun fashioning or reworking their sets of information principles, but should be cautious about desultory efforts that fail to address business drivers directly or
include sufficient bite.

The rush to wrest control of burgeoning information supply chains, has prompted many enterprises to embark on formal efforts to define and impose a set of principles and governance around
information management throughout their organization. While these efforts can presage improved information leverage (and ultimately increased information value), 80% of those through 2003/04 will
remain devoid of any means of enforcement. This will consign even the most well-defined sets of information principles to mere academic exercises, ultimate “desk-drawer-ware” and
short-term job security for underutilized information architects and administrators.

By 2004/05 however, we believe that leading enterprises will consciously avoid the “unfunded mandate” predicament via all or a combination of the following methods:

  • Ascribing levels of incentives and penalties to those who follow or eschew defined principles
  • Engaging business professionals in defining principles (and incentives and penalties)
  • Consulting business partners, employees, suppliers and customers (PECS)
  • Receiving business and IT leader (e.g. executive-level) support and formal endorsement
  • Instituting continuous monitoring methods, controls
  • Performing periodic audits
  • Instituting an arbitration procedure for those wishing to circumvent or modify established principles
  • Budgeting for ongoing monitoring, controls, audits, arbitration, incentives and refinement

Our research finds that the most comprehensive and tenable sets of information management principles are architected with key business drivers in mind, such as cost reduction, inter/intra-business
coordination, risk reduction, growth, innovation, and opportunity. This top-down approach can also help capture the interest and support of executives, thereby bolstering against languishing sets
of information principles. Nonetheless, through 2006/07 we unfortunately expect to see most sets of information principles linked almost exclusively to IT-centric rationale (e.g. standard
terminologies, data consistency, data sharing, redundancy reduction, data integrity, accountability)—noble objectives that certainly can lead to the aforementioned business concerns but fail
to speak to them directly.

Furthermore, “Newton’s 3nd Law of IT” reminds us that every procedure has a corresponding reaction. That is, the downstream implications of enacting each principle must be
examined. For example, a principle to allow only cleansed data to be used for decision-making (i.e. “the classic data warehouse data quality gauntlet”) can create a situation in which
strategic decisions are not aligned with the reality of business operations that access raw production data.

As information principles must fit the specific concerns, culture, capabilities of each organization, we cannot presume to publish an unabridged list of recommended principles. Still we maintain
that a comprehensive set of principles will address data modeling (e.g. answering the perennial corporate data model debate), metadata management, naming standards, and issues of ownership/
stewardship. Of course no set of information principles would be complete without addressing the gamut of data quality-related issues, e.g. data duplication, standardization, validation,
remediation, and enrichment. Also included should be principles related to data source designation (e.g. identification of operational/tactical/strategic “systems of record”, and
application APIs), data access (Create-Read-Update-Delete [CRUD]) permissions, internal & external data flows, privacy, security & business continuity, and information audit trails.
Finally, we recommend developing principles concerning data interoperability and integration.

Other keys to the success of information principles are an acid test comprised of the following questions:

  • Do they enable flexibility or are principle components “hard coded”?
  • Do they allow for scalability?
  • Do they avoid a one-size-fits-all approach?
  • Are they assumptive in terms of information volume, velocity and variety?
  • Do they cover the continuum of information types, e.g. structured through unstructured?
  • How well do they accommodate all aspects of the business
  • How well do they accommodate international needs and regulations?
  • To what degree to they inhibit development, innovation and growth?
  • To the technologies yet exist (or are feasible) to implement/control/monitor for principle adherence?
  • Do they address mega events such as merger/acquisition, business unit divestiture, facility catastrophe?

Finally, information principles should take into consideration related IT trends such as the next boom in data volume from sub-transactional data, the push for real-time business event
sense-and-respond functions, and the rise of the information services organization (ISO).

Bottom Line:

As well-defined as financial asset management governance is, information asset management governance are equally lacking. Furthermore, information principles that have been defined within
organizations lack sufficient support, incentives and penalties to be truly consequential. By 2004/05, enterprises must align information principles with business drivers and include control
mechanisms to monitor for compliance.

Business Impact: Only procedures with sufficient support, funding, controls, and communicated incentives/penalties will be followed.

META Trend:

During 2003/04, operational efficiency in many industries will be driven by regulatory mandates and/or needs to improve business or asset performance. This will encourage increased investments in
information asset management, including an emphasis on improved analytics, and enhanced forecasting and planning capabilities. By 2006-07, enterprises will seek collaborative partnerships with
industry organizations, exposing sanitized information in return for analytic insights and benchmarks.

Used by permission of Doug Laney, META Group, Inc.
Copyright 2003 © META Group, Inc.

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About Doug Laney

Doug Laney, Vice President and Service Director of Enterprise Analytics Strategies for META Group is an experienced practitioner and authority on business performance management solutions, information supply chain architecture, decision support system project methodology, consulting practice management, and data warehouse development tools. Prior to joining META Group in February 1999, he held positions with Prism Solutions as a consulting practice director for its Central US and Asia Pacific regions, as a methodology product manager, and as a consultant to clients in Latin America. With data warehouse solution involvement in dozens of projects, his field experience spans most industries. Mr. Laney's career began at Andersen Consulting, where he advanced to managing batch technical architecture design/development projects for multimillion-dollar engagements. He also spent several years in the artificial intelligence field, leading the development of complex knowledgebase and natural language query applications. Mr. Laney holds a B.S. from the University of Illinois.

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