Book Review: Principles of Data Management:

In this book, Keith Gordon has done an excellent job of laying out the full set of dimensions to be addressed for the effective management of an organization’s information. He begins with the assertion that information must be recognized as a key corporate resource, along with money, people, buildings, and so forth. He then describes both the technological and business dimensions of that management.

This book is a layman’s guide to the components of information management. It does begin with a survey defining a bit of history to explain exactly what a database is, and what technologies are behind it. Quickly, though, Mr. Gordon moves into the area of data modeling, which is a way of representing the structure of an enterprise’s data so that it can be discussed with business people. This is ultimately the language that should be used to communicate between the business users of information and the technologists who will provide it.

In a world where the data modeling field tends to be dominated by overly complex notations that are fundamentally inaccessible to the public, Mr. Gordon makes effective use of the notation created by Harry Ellis and Richard Barker to present clearly the things of significance to an organization. This notation is without the ornamentation in many notations that is frequently more confusing than illuminating. Again, in Mr. Gordon’s view, the objective of modeling is to engage the business in the management of the company’s information – which requires them to understand its basic components. This requires attention to the aesthetics and clarity of presentation.

In other words, the important thing about this book is that Mr. Gordon uses data models (and in particular corporate data models) to present the principles of data management.  This includes the roles, responsibilities, and benefits of data management. He includes a section on data quality – what it is, issues and causes of poor data quality, the dimensions of poor data quality and, most significantly, how to improve it. He also discusses data accessibility – security (allowing the right people and only the right people access), integrity (making sure the right people cannot damage the data), and recovery from loss of data.

I strongly recommend this book to someone wanting to understand the connection between the management of information and the kinds of technology that must be employed to do so. 

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