DAMA keynote: Survival of the data management fittest

Gartner's Michael Blechar told attendees at this years DAMA conference they must adapt to the changing data management landscape or risk extinction.

SAN DIEGO -- This year's Data Management Association (DAMA) International Symposium conference began with a warning...

to attendees that would have made Charles Darwin proud.

The rise of business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) is changing the role of data management professionals, said Michael Blechar, keynote speaker and vice president and research director at Gartner Inc. Data management pros that want a job in five to ten years, he warned, had better adapt.

"Data and processes are intertwined," Blechar told attendees. "It will fundamentally change the way organizations think about your roles, and your roles are going to need to evolve".

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 With business users demanding access to data from a variety of sources, data delivery through specific transactions and focused applications is on the outs, Blechar said.

"In this world there's a very loosely coupled user interface from the assembled services that in turn share access to data," Blechar said. "SOA exposes data issues to more people, places and processes, and what I tell companies is that without a focus on information management and meta data management they're going to fail."

Blechar laid out a number of best practices data management professionals should embrace to meet the changing information architecture landscape.

 

  • Information management should be an integral part of enterprise architecture efforts. Data management pros must coordinate their activities with the enterprise architecture group or "whoever is envisioning where your company is going," Blechar said, to better handle changes like new offices opening up or an unexpected acquisition.
  • Align business, information and technical architectures. There are multiple levels of architectures in any business, according to Blechar, and they all need to be on the same page. Business models, for example, must mesh with IT and data-related architectures.
  • Adopt master data management (MDM) to further data reuse. Business users want agility, Blechar said, "which means when you want to reuse the data, it's there in a way you can consume it." MDM is especially important for federating operational data in real time, he said.
  • "Wrap" legacy data to improve transparency and productivity. Accessing data housed in legacy data sources through Web services is a challenge. To overcome it, "there are technologies that will put a wrapper – a Java or .NET component usually – in front of existing legacy databases and expose them … as a data service that I can get access to," Blechar said.
  • "Data-in-context" rules should be placed in separate services. Data rules that are unique to the processes they support should be implemented in software services that combine the data and processes together, Blechar said. "Consider moving process-centric data rules from stored procedures into services."
  • Promote understanding, compliance and reuse of information assets. Meta data aids in the reuse of information and is becoming more important than the data itself to some organizations, he said. But be aware that different vendors have very different strategies when it comes to meta data management.
  • Build an enterprise information management (EIM) reference model to support BPM and SOA. Then develop an EIM roadmap to enable the information architecture and execute it, Blechar said.
  • Balance process-driven solutions with content-driven ones. "Where we are going is beyond the first generation of BPM and SOA [that is process-centric]," he said, "to the next generation of SOA that is information-centric."

Blechar also urged companies to look to business activity monitoring (BAM) technologies, rather than business intelligence (BI) technologies, to run their operations and to keep executives informed.

"Business activity monitoring produces the executive dashboard in a much more sophisticated way than business intelligence tools do, and they're also looking at the overall environment," Blechar said. "And make sure that all your built and bought solutions were designed and deployed with service-oriented principles and architectures."

Dennis Best, a first-time attendee and enterprise architect for the state of Pennsylvania, said he could relate to Blechar's suggestions.

"We need a more holistic information management strategy," Best said, adding that Pennsylvania just launched its enterprise architecture efforts four years ago. "Everything [Blechar] said is right in line with where we're going," he said.

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