The Coming Data Doomsday

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Top Predictions for Big Data in 2014

Remember last year, when we were all talking about the coming “data tsunami?” Heck, even CNBC wrote about it.

The data tsunami metaphor has always struck me as odd, particularly after 2011’s very real tsunami devastated parts of Japan. I gathered that it meant big, but it was hard to envision data creating tsunami-level chaos and destruction. I’m starting to rethink that.

Gartner recently came out with this rather startling statement that 33 percent of Fortune 100 organizations will face an information management crisis within the next three years. Think about that: A third of the top companies in the United Statesthese companies — so poorly manage information, they soon won’t be able to value, govern or even trust their own information.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s frightening, I know, but in the interest of not getting angry emails and calls from Gartner, the press release is very specific about what it means by “crisis” and “manage.”

"When we say 'manage,' we mean 'manage information for business advantage,' as opposed to just maintaining data and its physical or virtual storage needs," Gartner analyst Andrew White states. "In a digital economy, information is becoming the competitive asset to drive business advantage, and it is the critical connection that links the value chain of organizations."

Okay, fine. So maybe that’s not exactly how I would define a crisis, but it’s still a very bad sign, no matter how you phrase it.

Honestly, it’s not hard to see how this happened. In fact, if you have questions, John Parkinson, an affiliate partner at Waterstone Management Group, does a great job of summing up how we got here in the CFO column, “Time to Clean Up Your Master Data.” Basically, the business lived with data problems because it had to. When technology and practices like master data management came along, many organizations put it off as too hard or too expensive.

“Some day, but not today,” became the data management mantra of the day. That’s worked for years, because data wasn’t really business critical. That has changed, experts like White and Parkinson say, and our day of reckoning is coming.

“Cleaning up master data will never be cheap or easy, but it’s becoming a necessity — and waiting isn’t likely to make the problem smaller,” Parkinson warns. “Spreadsheets are great tools for many things, but it’s time to retire them in favor of integrated systems that can access complete, accurate and up-to-date master data that’s consistent and trustworthy.”

MDM is only one component to an overall enterprise information management strategy. Gartner advocates for a much broader approach based on three deceptively short steps:

“We recommend that IT leaders identify the crucial business outcomes that need improvement or that are being held by poor information management. Second, they need to determine the business processes and leaders most impacted by those outcomes, and use their findings to start setting priorities for a new EIM program. Finally, they need to adopt a program management approach for EIM, to identify work efforts, resource commitments, stakeholder expectations and metrics for success.”

See? That’s only three easy (but incredibly complex) steps to fix 50 years of poor data management practices. You’ll need to get on that, preferably before that tsunami of Big Data hits. No big deal, right.


Be sure to check back for my next and completely unrelated post: How to convert all your financial assets to food stores and gold.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 7, 2014 9:37 PM Alex Cooper Alex Cooper  says:
just try to clean up data spread across apps on cell phones, tablets and windows 8 apps (not that anyone uses those). Maybe enterprise apps connected to cloud based servers will in fact keep data cleaner, but the quality of my data gets worse and worse the more it is opened to the cloud. The connection between apps that are supposed to share data are wonky and it gets worse from there. The battle of easy to use vs. robust rages on. Simple almost always wins, robust but complex always loses. Reply
Mar 24, 2014 6:14 PM SusanO SusanO  says:
The concept of quality data is critical. Without concise data, a business can’t effectively analyze results. Early in the evolution of BI, analytics and visualization tools were not integrated, intuitive or smart. The use of business intelligence tools was limited to analysts and IT staff. Users typically used spreadsheets, reporting software or static reports, and the results were less than stellar! Then came self-serve, personalized BI, data democratization, and deep dive capabilities that allowed users to dive into data. These tools revealed the inherent flaws of inaccurate master data, incomplete and aging data. This revelation resulted in a lack of confidence among decision makers. You can’t trust decisions that are based on inaccurate or incomplete data. At ElegantJ BI, we believe that Master Data Management (MDM) is critical to every business. Big Data is a concept that is new to many organizations, but before big data comes knocking on the door, managers must embrace MDM if they want to avoid failure. Master Data Management Reply
Mar 28, 2014 6:05 AM kavleen kavleen  says:
Great post... We should think again about our data security and recovery from new age data threats. Reply

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