7 Steps to Smarter Integration
Sometimes, change can be worthwhile. The key is knowing what's worth pursuing and what's not.
I have to say, I had a lot of fun this year covering integration, particularly as it relates to data management. What other topic would let me praise the gravitas of flying squirrels, read a blog called "Two Different Socks," learn about Plato's Cinema, vote against a Sith Lord or write about dragons?
Since I've had so much fun, I've decided to share. In the great tradition of the "year in review," I thought it might be a blast to share my picks for the Best and Worst of 2011.
Best Fight of 2011: It's natural to think of data types as thugs who love to rumble, but you'd be surprised to learn there are actually very few fights among the data management set. Oh, sure, occasionally an IBM executive backhands Oracle about its hardware integration, and occasionally a tech journalist (not me - well, maybe a little bit me) will try to stir the Twitter pot by writing that executives focus too much on data quality.
So, really, there was only one obvious choice for the Best Fight: Data Governance Wars, an educational rumble between Rob "Darth" Karel of Forrester Research and Jim "the Jedi" Harris of the Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality blog.
Best Mind-Boggling Integration Project: A $60 million effort launched by the Department of Energy to integrate all the biological data silos about everything known about plants and microbes. It's been called the "computational equivalent of a manned mission to Mars."
Best Success: U.S. Xpress trucking company CIO Dale Langley turned an off-handed remark by another executive into $6 million in fuel savings after a mere six-week data integration initiative. Now there's a CIO who deserves a reality show!
Special mention also goes to Alameda County Social Service Agency for a 631 percent ROI on its data integration project and Del Monte for its 10-year enterprise architecture effort that resulted in triple profits and a 600 percent increase in net revenue.
Best Food-Inspired Integration Idea: Selling integration by the pizza slice, by John Schmidt, the vice president of Global Integration Services and Lean Integration Practice Leader at Informatica. Schmidt came up with this concept while at Best Buy, where it reduced the average costs per integration point from $10,000 to $1,000 within three years.
The Worst Metaphor: Comparing enterprise vendors to a marriage that's "three years and one upgrade cycle too long" and cloud SaaS providers to "the mistress you ultimately decide to marry after ditching SAP or Oracle." Sorry, ZDNet, I love you, but that one made me cringe and left me wondering about someone's personal life. And somebody had to win.
Best Steward of Data: Barbara Deemer, chief data steward for Sallie Mae, who was recognized as Data Steward of the Year by DataFlux. What impressed me, however, wasn't that she won the award, but what her co-workers said about her. "She's the Bo Jackson of data stewards at Sallie Mae," the application said. "She brings a professional and up-beat attitude that is tough to rival."
Despite all the playfulness, the experts, analysts, consultants and vendors - not to mention those who woefully ignore data at their peril - prove time and time again that how you move, manage, integrate and govern data and systems can make a huge strategic difference.