the answer is federation

…What was the question again?
Within the Enterprise Information Management space, one thing is clear…data experts can’t do it all on their own…they need the business to help them.

After all, Data is a People business. The Knowledge lies with the business and they have accountability for the business data that represents that knowledge.

The trend, however, has been for business to see data as an IT issue, forcing data practitioners to pursue a valiant, well meaning but never ending stream of often fruitless “Data Projects”…taking this upon themselves in order to try and move data strategy, management and governance forwards.

This is a numbers game that is virtually impossible to win, one kettle can not boil an ocean…a handful data experts have neither the time or the autonomous accountability to shoulder this burden entirely.

Data Literacy initiatives are springing up to try and make everybody data citizens, to be able to self serve access to data and, I feel, to understand the data practitioner’s dilemma so that governance can be distributed a bit wider across the enterprise. These will have little effect if the rubber can’t meet the road, so to speak. Business needs to be holding the reigns.

This is where we get to the nub of the issue…Time…data people clearly will never have enough of it, business people aren’t lending enough of theirs collectively to fill the gap…there is only really on solution to solve this availability of time problem…to find a way to borrow small amounts of time for highly focused activities delivered directly to as many people as possible as part of their normal working day.

Business people, certainly SMEs, know what information they need to operate with, each individual works with a tiny subset of the whole enterprise data set…the bits that relate to their job and/or the people they manage. New workers get trained in this, training materials describe it all, academic and industry qualifications and courses reinforce the knowledge and skills needed. In short, the only people qualified to do most this is activity are business people. Data people don’t stand a change in hell.

Federation is a viable solution, a specific type of federation that involves the distribution of enterprise information management workload through small amounts of time borrowed from the business workforce to the place where there is maximum knowledge, skill and accountability.

Data practitioners play a part in this, but not a big one IMHO. They should define the outcomes needed, communicate the rules of engagement and continuously monitor the overall progress and quality of outcomes produced. The business needs to then federate the ongoing activity to as many individuals as possible. (Sorry data platform vendors! This means the overpriced per seat license models for update access to your tools needs to die, this is an enterprise wide thing.)

These small, quick and discreet tasks should literally appear in their daily inbox or to do lists, with SLAs attached and with same performance target vigour as applied to any other business activity. They should be discussed in daily stand-ups, prioritized, reassigned and escalated as needed. This should be put into numbers in the quarterly board level reports.

There is no need for governance committees and half days for 10 people in a room wasting time talking about it and not doing it, data people haven’t the time to do this and it is distracting them from constructing forward change and improvement…collaboration should be built in…this is a continuous pipeline enterprise work flow endeavour in which everybody should participate.

We need to raise the bar, get better at spreading workload around the business or data will always be “that problem we can never seem to solve”.

So, the answer is Federation…what was the question again?

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About the author 

Robert Vane

Robert Vane is the co-founder of the Q6FSA Method for Global Information Management, a freelance full enterprise scope data architect with over 25 years experience of getting it all wrong, now dedicated to solving the foundational root causes of failure within the information management space and getting it all right.

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