Tag Archives: business value

To Determine The Business Value of Data, Don’t Talk About Data

The title of this article may seem counterintuitive, but the reality is that the business doesn’t care about data.  They care about their business processes and outcomes that generate real value for the organization. All IT professionals know there is huge value in quality data and in having it integrated and consistent across the enterprise.  The challenge is how to prove the business value of data if the business doesn’t care about it. (more…)

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Posted in Application Retirement, Business Impact / Benefits, CIO, Data Governance, Enterprise Data Management, Integration Competency Centers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Has the Heart to Adopt this Orphan Oil Well?

As I browsed my BBC app a few weeks ago, I ran into this article about environmental contamination of oil wells in the UK, which were left to their own devices. The article explains that a lack of data and proper data management is causing major issues for gas and oil companies. In fact, researchers found no data for more than 2,000 inactive wells, many of which have been abandoned or “orphaned”(sealed and covered up). I started to scratch my head imagining what this problem looks like in places like Brazil, Nigeria, Malaysia, Angola and the Middle East. In these countries and regions, regulatory oversight is, on average, a bit less regulated.

Data Management

Like Oliver, this well needs a home!

On top of that, please excuse my cynicism here, but an “Orphan” well is just as ridiculous a concept as a “Dry” well.  A hole without liquid inside is not a well but – you guessed it – a hole.  Also, every well has a “Parent”, meaning

  • The person or company who drilled it
  • A  land owner who will get paid from its production and allowed the operation (otherwise it would be illegal)
  • A financier who fronted the equipment and research cost
  • A regulator, who is charged with overseeing the reservoir’s exploration

Let the “hydrocarbon family court judge” decide whose problem this orphan is with well founded information- no pun intended.  After all, this “domestic disturbance” is typically just as well documented as any police “house call”, when you hear screams from next door. Similarly, one would expect that when (exploratory) wells are abandoned and improperly capped or completed, there is a long track record about financial or operational troubles at the involved parties.  Apparently I was wrong.  Nobody seems to have a record of where the well actually was on the surface, let alone subsurface, to determine perforation risks in itself or from an actively managed bore nearby.

This reminds me of a meeting with an Asian NOC’s PMU IT staff, who vigorously disagreed with every other department on the reality on the ground versus at group level. The PMU folks insisted on having fixed all wells’ key attributes:

  1. Knowing how many wells and bores they had across the globe and all types of commercial models including joint ventures
  2. Where they were and are today
  3. What their technical characteristics were and currently are

The other departments, from finance to strategy, clearly indicated that 10,000 wells across the globe currently being “mastered” with (at least initially) cheap internal band aid fixes has a margin of error of up to 10%.   So much for long term TCO.  After reading this BBC article, this internal disagreement made even more sense.

If this chasm does not make a case for proper mastering of key operational entities, like wells, I don’t know what does. It also begs the question how any operation with potentially very negative long term effects can have no legally culpable party being capture in some sort of, dare I say, master register.  Isn’t this the sign of “rule of law” governing an advanced nation, e.g. having a land register, building permits, wills, etc.?

I rest my case, your honor.  May the garden ferries forgive us for spoiling their perfectly manicured lawn.  With more fracking and public scrutiny on the horizon, maybe regulators need to establish their own “trusted” well master file, rather than rely on oil firms’ data dumps.  After all, the next downhole location may be just a foot away from perforating one of these “orphans” setting your kitchen sink faucet on fire.

Do you think another push for local government to establish “well registries” like they did ten years ago for national IDs, is in order?

Disclaimer: Recommendations and illustrations contained in this post are estimates only and are based entirely upon information provided by the prospective customer and on our observations and benchmarks.  While we believe our recommendations and estimates to be sound, the degree of success achieved by the prospective customer is dependent upon a variety of factors, many of which are not under Informatica’s control and nothing in this post shall be relied upon as representative of the degree of success that may, in fact, be realized and no warranty or representation of success, either express or implied, is made.

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Posted in Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Master Data Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Future of Data for Everyone

Chart for the future of dataWithin every corporation there are lines of businesses, like Finance, Sales, Logistics and Marketing. And within those lines of businesses are business users who are either non-technical or choose to be non-technical.

These business users are increasingly using Next-Generation Business Intelligence Tools like Tableau, Qliktech, MicroStrategy Visual Insight, Spotfire or even Excel. A unique capability of these Next-Generation Business Intelligence Tools is that they allow a non-technical Business User to prepare data, themselves, prior to the ingestion of the prepared data into these tools for subsequent analysis.

Initially, the types of activities involved in preparing this data are quite simple. It involves, perhaps, putting together two excel files via a join on a common field. However, over time, the types of operations a non-technical user wishes to perform on the data become more complex. They wish to do things like join two files of differing grain, or validate/complete addresses, or even enrich company or customer profile data. And when a non-technical user reaches this point they require either coding or advanced tooling, neither of which they have access to. Therefore, at this point, they will pick up the phone, call their brethren in IT and ask nicely for help with combining, enhancing quality and enriching the data. Often times they require the resulting dataset back in a tight timeframe, perhaps a couple of hours. IT, will initially be very happy to oblige. They will get the dataset back to the business user in the timeframe requested and at the quality levels expected. No issues.

However, as the number of non-technical Business Users using Next-Generation Business Intelligence tools increase, the number of requests to IT for datasets also increase. And so, while initially IT was able to meet the “quick hit dataset” requests from the Business, over time, and to the best of their abilities, IT increasingly becomes unable to do so.

The reality is that over time, the business will see a gradual decrease in the quality of the datasets returned, as well as an increase the timeframe required for IT to provide the data. And at some point the business will reach a decision point. This is where they determine that for them to meet their business commitments, they will have to find other means by which to put together their “quick hit datasets.” It is precisely at this point that the business may do things like hire an IT contractor to sit next to them to do nothing but put together these “quick hit” datasets. It is also when IT begins to feel marginalized and will likely begin to see a drop in funding.

This dynamic is one that has been around for decades and has continued to worsen due to the increase in the pace of data driven business decision making. I feel that we at Informatica have a truly unique opportunity to innovate a technology solution that focuses on two related constituents, specifically, the Non-Technical Business User and the IT Data Provisioner.

The specific point of value that this technology will provide to the Non-Technical Business User will enable them to rapidly put together datasets for subsequent analysis in their Next-Generation BI tool of choice. Without this tool they might spend a week or two putting together a dataset or wait for someone else to put it together. I feel we can improve this division-of-labor and allow business users to spend 1-2 weeks performing meaningful analysis before spending 15 minutes putting the data set together themselves. Doing so, we allow non-technical business users to dramatically decrease their decision making time.

The specific point of value that this technology will provide the IT data provisioner is that they will now be able to effectively scale data provisioning as the number of requests for “quick hit datasets” rapidly increase. Most importantly, they will be able to scale, proactively.

Because of this, the Business and IT relationship has become a match made in heaven.

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Posted in Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Data Quality, Data Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fire your Data Scientists – They Don’t Add Value

Data ScientistYears ago, I was on a project to improve production and product quality through data analysis. During the project, I heard one man say: 

“If I had my way, I’d fire the statisticians – all of them – they don’t add value”. 

Surely not? Why would you fire the very people who were employed to make sense of the vast volumes of manufacturing data and guide future production?  But he was right. The problem was at that time data management was so poor that data was simply not available for the statisticians to analyze.

So, perhaps this title should be re-written to be: 

Fire your Data Scientists – They Aren’t Able to Add Value.

Although this statement is a bit extreme, the same situation may still exist. Data scientists frequently share frustrations such as:

  • “I’m told our data is 60% accurate, which means I can’t trust any of it.”
  • “We achieved our goal of an answer within a week by working 24 hours a day.”
  • “Each quarter we manually prepare 300 slides to anticipate all questions the CFO may ask.”
  • “Fred manually audits 10% of the invoices.  When he is on holiday, we just don’t do the audit.”

This is why I think the original quote is so insightful.  Value from data is not automatically delivered by hiring a statistician, analyst or data scientist. Even with the latest data mining technology, one person cannot positively influence a business without the proper data to support them.

Most organizations are unfamiliar with the structure required to deliver value from their data. New storage technologies will be introduced and a variety of analytics tools will be tried and tested. This change is crucial for to success. In order for statisticians to add value to a company, they must have access to high quality data that is easily sourced and integrated. That data must be available through the latest analytics technology. This new ecosystem should provide insights that can play a role in future production. Staff will need to be trained, as this new data will be incorporated into daily decision making.

With a rich 20-year history, Informatica understands data ecosystems. Employees become wasted investments when they do not have access to the trusted data they need in order to deliver their true value.

Who wants to spend their time recreating data sets to find a nugget of value only to discover it can’t be implemented?

Build a analytical ecosystem with a balanced focus on all aspects of data management. This will mean that value delivery is limited only by the imagination of your employees. Rather than questioning the value of an analytics team, you will attract some of the best and the brightest. Then, you will finally be able to deliver on the promised value of your data.

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Posted in Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, Data Warehousing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Ten Facets of Data Governance

In this video, Rob Karel, vice president of product strategy, Informatica, outlines the Informatica Data Governance Framework, highlighting the 10 facets that organizations need to focus on for an effective data governance initiative:

  • Vision and Business Case to deliver business value
  • People
  • Tools and Architecture to support architectural scope of data governance
  • Policies that make up data governance function (security, archiving, etc.)
  • Measurement: measuring the level of influence of a data governance initiative and measuring its effectiveness (business value metrics, ROI metrics, such as increasing revenue, improving operational efficiency, reducing risk, reducing cost or improving customer satisfaction)
  • Change Management: incentives to workforce, partners and customers to get better quality data in and potential repercussions if data is not of good quality
  • Organizational Alignment: how the organization will work together across silos
  • Dependent Processes: identifying data lifecycles (capturing, reporting, purchasing and updating data into your environment), all processes consuming the data and processes to store and manage the data
  • Program Management: effective program management skills to build out communication strategy, measurement strategy and a focal point to escalate issues to senior management when necessary
  • Define Processes that make up the data governance function (discovery, definition, application and measuring and monitoring).

For more information from Rob Karel on the Informatica Data Governance Framework, visit his Perspectives blogs.

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The Inches We Need Are Everywhere

So goes the line in the 1999 Oliver Stone film, Any Given Sunday. In the film, Al Pacino plays Tony D’Amato, a “been there, done that” football coach who, faced with a new set of challenges, has to re-evaluate his tried and true assumptions about everything he had learned through his career. In an attempt to rally his troops, D’Amato delivers a wonderful stump speech challenging them to look for ways to move the ball forward, treating every inch of the field as something sacred and encouraging them to think differently about how to do so.

(more…)

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Posted in Data Governance, Data Quality, Pervasive Data Quality | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Value of Knowing the Value

Ever wondered if an initiative is worth the effort?  Ever wondered how to quantify its worth?  This is a loaded question as you may suspect but I wanted to ask it nevertheless as my team of Global Industry Consultants work with clients around the world to do just that (aka Business Value Assessment or BVA) for solutions anchored around Informatica’s products.

How far will your investment stretch?

As these solutions typically involve multiple core business processes stretching over multiple departments and leveraging a legion of technology components like ETL, metadata management, business glossary, BPM, data virtualization, legacy ERP, CRM and billing systems, it initially sounds like a daunting level of complexity.  Opening this can of worms may end up in a measurement fatigue (I think I just discovered a new medical malaise.) (more…)

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Master Data Management, Operational Efficiency, Scorecarding | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Virtualization Quick Tips

The ability to create abstract schemas that are mapped to back-end physical databases provides a huge advantage for those enterprises looking to get their data under control.  However, given the power of data virtualization, there are a few things that those in charge of data integration should know. Here are a few quick tips.

Tip 1:  Start with a new schema that is decoupled from the data sources. (more…)

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Dear Santa…

Back in the good ol’ days, Santa Claus received letters and post cards from children all over the world.  When telephones and faxes became commonplace, they were also used to contact Santa.  In addition to those traditional methods, children today can also use the internet to send emails, Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn to notify Santa of their wish list. (more…)

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(Data) Champions Are Everywhere

I recently had the opportunity to meet with the board of directors for a large distribution company here in the U.S.  On the table for discussion were data quality and data governance, and how a focus on both could help the organization gain competitive advantage in the market.  While I was happy to see that this company had tied data quality and data governance to help meet their corporate objectives, that’s not what caught my attention.  Instead, what impressed me the most was how the data quality and data governance champion had effectively helped the rest of the board see that there WAS a direct link, and that with careful focus they could drive better business outcomes than they could without a focus on data at all.  As it turns out, the path to success for the champion was to focus on articulating the link between trusted data — governed effectively — and the company’s ability to excel financially, manage costs, limit its risk exposure and maintain trust with its customers. (more…)

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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Data Governance, Data Quality, Data Warehousing, Pervasive Data Quality, Profiling, Scorecarding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment