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Enterprise Data World 2016 – It’s a Wrap

By Kelle O'Neal

I recently returned from Enterprise Data World in San Diego and wanted to share my thoughts and experiences for some of you who may have missed it. I’ve only been attending Enterprise Data World (EDW) for the last five years or so, but the conference celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Kudos to the DATAVERSITY team for another terrific and insightful event!

Even in the short time I’ve been attending, I’ve seen the conference demographics shift — and it’s been pretty dramatic. Attendees are not just the technical people who want to be in the business, but people who run data programs from within the business or are responsible for a line of business.

This reflects the shift in the data landscape itself.

It’s not just talk anymore. People are really seeing and responding to data programs being business initiatives. With this, EDW’s presentations and talk tracks are also evolving, and there is more and more focus on data consumption (analytics) and new data platforms to manage “Big Data.”

Organizational “fit” and Data Governance

John Ladley, our President and Chief Delivery Officer, also attended EDW. We both found the attendees to be quite engaged and received great feedback (and some nice tweets) about our presentations.

I heard back from several people who attended my EDW tutorial on Creating a Data Governance Operating Model: Roles and Responsibilities for Effective Governance and Stewardship. People were very interested in making sure their organization had the right strategy and the executive support and skillsets needed to be successful. They also wanted to understand what those specific skills should be.

Also, there was also a lot of interest in exactly what roles are needed in IT to support governance and how to make this partnership most successful. Even just a few years ago, many people thought governance was run from within IT, so this is an interesting and meaningful shift in questions that shows most people agree that governance should be run from within the business.

I wasn’t quite sure how my 5-Step Process to Align a Data-driven Organization presentation would be received, but it was standing-room only. There were, it seemed, many shell-shocked people in the audience. Perhaps because I incorporated a mini physiology lesson and tied driving culture to the limbic system and neocortex, the systems that govern our core beliefs and behavior, respectively? (I’ll dive into this topic in another blog post next month.)

But there were also several that complimented the novel approach, appreciated the reminder that Visions/Missions, etc., need to be engaging and memorable (not long and boring). I even had one woman come up to me and thank me for the presentation because it fed nicely into her topic and gave her ideas to use in her presentation later that same day.

John also presented two sessions: Measuring the Success and Value of Data Governance and Management and Data Debt: A Powerful Metric for Sustaining EIM and DG. He noted attendees’ “intense” interest in business cases and said they really want to be able to measure the value of data. John’s Generally Accepted Information Principles™, a framework he developed some years back, also generated a lot of interest, and we have this slated for a future post on the blog — so stay tuned.

EDW audience’s needs grows

Overall, the audience at EDW is getting more sophisticated, more aware of the business impacts of data — and that means we need to continue to evolve our methodology to take into consideration people are not starting at the “green” level they were a few years ago. John said he noticed a palpable difference this year at EDW, too, with the intensity and commitment of the attendees and their organizations to enterprise information management and data governance. He remarked, “There was very little ‘should we’ and mostly ‘how can we make it work?’”

People at EDW, and the industry at large, are still struggling to understand how to truly operationalize these programs for the long term. This will inform FSFP’s methodology and our client engagements. This reinforces the commitment and approach we’ve taken with every client engagement for nearly a decade: we go beyond theory and strategy (though we have unique frameworks for those, too) and really focus on enabling clients with effective implementation and embedding data best practices into their operational processes and culture for long-term sustainability.

Stay connected in data management industry

John called EDW “part education, part inspiration and a touch of family reunion.” I agree. It’s also a great opportunity to stay abreast of the trends in the industry and learn from each other.

I have a busy travel and work schedule, but I want to be able to take even more advantage of events like EDW. We need to be constantly learning and exploring, and these conferences are one way for my team and I to do that. I encourage you to do the same.

I hope to catch some of you at the DAMA Day 2016 Symposium in New York on May 19!

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