Friday, December 10, 2010

Six Data Management Predictions for 2011

This time of year everyone makes prognostications about the state of the data management field for 2011. I thought I’d take my turn by offering my predictions for the coming year.

Data will become more open
In the old days good quality reference data was an asset kept in the corporate lockbox. If you had a good reference table for common misspellings of parts, cities, or names for example, the mind set was to keep it close and away from falling into the wrong hands.  The data might have been sold for profit or simply not available.  Today, there really is no “wrong hands”.  Governments and corporations alike are seeing the societal benefits of sharing information. More reference data is there for the taking on the internet from sites like and  That trend will continue in 2011.  Perhaps we’ll even see some of the bigger players make announcements as to the availability of their data. Are you listening Google?

Business and IT will become blurry
It’s becoming harder and harder to tell an IT guy from the head of marketing. That’s because in order to succeed, the IT folks need to become more like the marketer and vice versa.  In the coming year, the difference will be less noticeable and business people get more and more involved in using data to their benefit.  Newsflash One: If you’re in IT, you need marketing skills to pitch your projects and get funding.  Newsflash Two: If you’re in business, you need to know enough about data management practices to succeed.

Tools will become easier to use
As the business users come into the picture, they will need access to the tools to manage data.  Vendors must respond to this new marketplace or die.

Tools will do less heavy lifting
Despite the improvements in the tools, corporations will turn to improving processes and reporting in order to achieve better data management. Dwindling are the days where we’re dealing with data that is so poorly managed that it requires overly complicated data quality tools.  We’re getting better at the data management process and therefore, the burden on the tools becomes less. Future tools with focus on supporting the process improvement with work flow features, reporting and better graphical user interfaces.

CEOs and Government Officials will gain enlightenment
Feeding off the success of a few pioneers in data governance as well as failures of IT projects in our past, CEOs and governments will gain enlightenment about managing their data and put teams in place to handle it.  It has taken decades of our sweet-talk and cajoling for government and CEOs to achieve enlightenment, but I believe it is practically here.

We will become more reliant on data
Ten years ago, it was difficult to imagine us where we are today with respect to our data addiction. Today, data is a pervasive part of our internet-connected society, living in our PCs, our TVs, our mobile phones many other devices. It’s a huge part of our daily lives. As I’ve said in past posts, the world is addicted to data and that bodes well for anyone who helps the world manage it. In 2011, no matter if the economy turns up or down, our industry will continue to feed the addiction to good, clean data.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.