Auld Lang Syne has been sung, but since it is still January, there remains time for New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, sleeping more, eating vegetables and working less on weekends are perennial favorites; to those I now add “blogging more often.” For some, this resolution would be a cinch. Not for me. In 2010, with one project due after another, I struggled to carve out time to blog. I hope to correct that in 2011, even as I anticipate a new year full of interesting and demanding projects.
In competition with writing one single blog, of course, are all the social media options that have many of us splayed across the Web, including Facebook and Twitter. These need care and feeding, too. In my business, despite its high inanity quotient, Twitter has become essential for communicating news briefs and quick-take analyses. Facebook is many things to many people, but for me it is just a “fun” forum for sharing observations and artifacts along life’s journey. Maybe someday it will be more. Can’t forget LinkedIn. Finally, the social network experience has to include commenting on other people’s blogs, at major news source sites, on Yelp, on Amazon and so on. Have to give the text analytics engines something to chew on!
Most industry pundits have already published their predictions and prognostications for 2011. Rather than add to the pile, I would like to offer a few quick information management “resolutions”: priorities that I believe will shape what happens in 2011.
Integrate the integration. In 2010, the business value of information integration hit home to many organizations. Improved integration can lower the cost of information management and help eliminate downstream business problems caused by poor data quality and inconsistency. Yet, across enterprise departments and business functions there are usually numerous data, application and process information integration steps. With vendors such as IBM, Informatica, Kalido, Oracle and Talend beginning to provide better tools for developing and governing the use of data through master data management and “semantic” metadata layers, organizations have the opportunity to work toward comprehensive, end-to-end visions of information integration.
Don’t be blinded by automated analytics: The good news coming out of 2010 is that advanced analytics involving large (ok, “big”) data sources are becoming mainstream. More organizations than ever before will be able to afford analytics, especially as they deploy data appliances and use services, templates and other tools to shortcut the development of models, variable selection and other steps that are difficult and time-consuming. However, organizations need to “keep it real”: this is important stuff, involving critical decisions about customers, patients, pricing, demand chains, fraud prevention and other factors that are differentiators. Despite the hype, automated analytics are not entirely ready to replace wetware, gut feel or moments of irrational inspiration.
Respect “keeping the lights on.” It’s fashionable these days to dismiss non-strategic IT tasks as merely “keeping the lights on.” I found in 2010 that some of the most complicated and important decisions organizations are making these days have to do with IT infrastructure. Virtualization and cloud computing are completely remaking the map, which means that IT has to move to the next generation of tools and analysis of network optimization, application performance management, dependency mapping and more. Organizations need more sophisticated tools and analysis to make the right decisions about IT infrastructure.
Encourage vendor “coopetition.” The sensational story of Mark Hurd’s departure from HP and resurfacing at Oracle dominated headlines in 2010. The story is not over; InformationWeek’s Bob Evans offers an insightful blog about the continuing friction between HP and Oracle. In the wake of Oracle’s Sun acquisition, the two companies are in the midst of a tectonic shift away from what had been a longstanding partnership. Organizations should remind vendors such as HP and Oracle that despite competitive antagonism, they expect them to work together effectively on behalf of their interests. Customers have that kind of clout. Fasten your seatbelts, though, because I’m sure we’re in for more M&A activity, possibly involving HP and Oracle, which will further reshape the competitive landscape.
Be smart about being “dynamic.” A major watchword this year is “dynamic.” Cloud computing, virtualization, appliances, workload optimization, workforce optimization and other technologies are helping organizations flex to meet changing business requirements without the usual steps of adding people, software and hardware resources that sit idle when not needed. To be more just-in-time requires knowledge; otherwise, organizations could be caught short. In 2011, before going fully dynamic, organizations need to evaluate whether they have adequate knowledge about user and business requirements. If not, it may be time to evaluate tools and practices for understanding workloads, process requirements, dependencies and more. Old ways – and divisions between business and IT – have to change.
That’s all for now. Happy New Year to all!