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DMBOK2 eyes evolving data management best practices, challenges

In a Q&A, DAMA president Sue Geuens talks about the second edition of the group's DMBOK reference book and how data management trends and processes have changed since the first version.

Data management best practices are constantly changing and improving, and businesses need to keep up. DAMA International wants to help them do so.

On June 30, the association data management professionals will release the second edition of The DAMA Guide to the Data Management Body of Knowledge, a reference book typically referred to as the DAMA-DMBOK, or just the DMBOK. The edition the book, which was published in 2009, has helped many companies get their data management programs started, according to Sue Geuens, DAMA's current president. But she hopes that the updates in the new DMBOK2 version will make the book even more useful.

Geuens, who is based in the U.K., has been president DAMA since 2014. She was head data standards and best practices adoption at financial services firm Barclays until April, and now works as a data management consultant. She spoke with SearchDataManagement about the DMBOK2, new trends in data management best practices and ongoing challenges that organizations face in managing their data. Excerpts from the interview follow.

What's the main purpose the DMBOK? What does it provide as a resource for data management teams?

Sue Geuens: The main purpose the book is really that body knowledge -- it's to give individuals in data management a framework for doing data management. It covers all the various functional knowledge areas data management. It doesn't give the how-to -- it talks about what is data governance, what is data quality, what are the key features these functional knowledge areas?

What are the big changes readers should look for in the second version the DMBOK?

Sue Geuens, DAMA InternationalSue Geuens

Geuens: Things have changed since 2007 or 2008 [when the edition was written]. What the DMBOK2 is doing is to [show] those changes and to add in information and material where it didn't exist before, or where it was still in its very infancy and wasn't ready to be put into the book -- things like big data. We've added in a section on data ethics, we've added a big section on data privacy and we've added in a complete section on integration and interoperability.

As professionals, we have matured and improved as we've gone along, so the book reflects a lot of that, as well. As an example, if I was going to a conference in the late 2000s, and I went into a couple of data governance sessions, I would feel like I was actually listening to different things. Nowadays, when you go to a conference, you [can] attend multiple sessions on data governance and almost all the presenters are talking the same language.

Can you expand on some of the emerging data management best practices and trends that you've addressed in the DMBOK2?

Geuens: We've got all of this stuff about big data and the new big data technology, so everybody's going, 'We've got such big data, how do we manage it?' Big data has always been around, but I don't think there was necessarily enough strong technology that was able to use it and analyze it in the way that's happening now.

Another thing that's becoming quite popular is data visualization. Ten or 12 years ago, you would see nothing but reports. Now, we're beginning to see a lot more visualization. The rise of infographics is absolutely phenomenal, and you find research organizations are beginning to show results via images and imagery rather than just a dry, old table with words and columns.

Data ethics is new, but not new. It has always been around, but now it's being talked about as an actual topic. I also think that there is just a lot more data-centric and data-focused [decision-making in businesses]. Organizations used to be focused on products or finance or something; we now are beginning to see that they're swinging around and looking at data.

Are those the biggest data management challenges these days? Or is dealing with the basics of data governance, data quality and master data management still the toughest part of the job for a lot of data management professionals?

The biggest challenge that faces any organization is the resistance to change.
Sue Geuenspresident, DAMA International

Geuens: The biggest challenge that faces any organization is the resistance to change. As much as we all know data is important, changing the mindset of any organization so that they manage the data in a more formalized way is just still an enormous task.

A lot of that is [because] there isn't that compelling story that puts data on the list of the CEO. They're still going, I need to make money, I need to drive efficiency, I need to drive the costs down.' Data can help, and good data can actually be an enormous driver. But I'm not sure that that message is [always] clear.

Where do most DAMA members stand in addressing that in their organizations?

Geuens: A lot of it is new ground still. There are some organizations that are beginning to take it seriously, and they are making strides, and that's good to see because we need a lot more case studies of success. It's a very difficult thing to give some tangible value.

When you go to your CEO and you say, 'We want to do data governance,' the question is, 'Alright, how much money is it going to make me? How much is it going to cost me?' We can say, 'Here's the cost,' but what we can't do is say whether it's going to make you money. Data governance won't make you money directly -- improving your data to service your clients will make you more money, but it's not directly tangible.

Is there a DMBOK3 on the horizon?

Geuens: If I even try to mention DMBOK3, [our publications officer] wants to hit me. Yes, there is going to be a DMBOK3. However, it isn't going to go the same way this one went. There's a big gap between the two [editions], and I think that was a mistake, so we will be looking at a mechanism of keeping it up to date more agilely. We're looking at how to do that, how to keep it valid and up to date, without going into a great big publications circle again. 

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