Do We Really Need Another Information Framework?

Do We Really Need Another Information Framework?

The EIM Consortium is a group of nine companies that formed this year with the mission to:

Promote the adoption of Enterprise Information Management as a business function by establishing an open industry reference architecture in order to protect and optimize the business value derived from data assets.”

That sounds nice, but we do really need another framework for EIM or Data Governance? Yes we do, and here’s why.

Do We Really Need Another Information Framework?
The EIM Consortium

First, we need a framework in order to improve the practice of information management and maximize the business value of information across large enterprises. A common language enables professionals to share insights and strive for continuous improvement. Furthermore, government agencies are increasingly insisting that reported information be auditable.  You can’t audit something without the equivalent of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. In fact this was one of the main reasons behind the development of ITIL standards for IT Service Management in the 1980’s.

Second, none of the current EIM-related reference models have become the dominant standard. A few have received some recognition such as the Data Management Body of Knowledge from DAMA or the Data Governance Framework from DGI.  Then there are open source versions such as Mike 2.0 and pretty much every vendor and analyst firm has their own version including this one from Informatica. In short, the industry has not yet settled on a standard and even well-established frameworks like ITIL are silent about data.

Finally, all of the frameworks are somewhat arbitrary. Is it better to have 10 facets, 11 functions, 12 processes, or something else?  The open source and standards-driven frameworks are somewhat better since they are the result of an agreement process among multiple practitioners, but they are nonetheless still ambiguous since they are based on an experiential rather than analytical approach. The net result is a confusing array of definitions and terminology.

The EIM Consortium framework is different for several reasons.

  1. The EIM models are part of a broader enterprise reference architecture which defines the complete set of enterprise capabilities as modular service components that can be developed, reconfigured, scaled up (or down) as required. The enterprise capabilities are independent of organizational silos and politics, providing strategists, architects, and planners the means to drive for high performance across the enterprise, regardless of the shifting set of strategic business drivers. In short, Information management is an integral part of the enterprise and not a separate capability.
  2. The EIM Consortium addresses the challenge of ambiguity by modeling information exchanges and service flows between the EIM functions. One of the key rules is that each information subject can be created by only one function. The result is a hierarchy of EIM functions that are normalized and clarified not just by a textual description of the function, but also by the create/use matrix of information exchanges.
  3. The Information Model is derived from an analysis of business functions and their interactions, not from a Data Model.  This provides further clarity in the definition of information by adding a business functional context.
  4. The models are captured in a structured repository which enforces relationship and integrity rules.  A formal modeling methodology along with a meta-model results in a consistent and repeatable framework.

Implementing new or improved information management capabilities and integrating with new partners or acquisitions is greatly facilitated through common  views of EIM building blocks and through reusing solution components. In other words, Better, Faster, Cheaper projects.

I haven’t named the nine companies (other than Informatica) since the EIM Consortium is still in the early stage of development and we have not yet formalized the organizational structure. If you would like to learn more, or potentially roll up your sleeves and help achieve the mission, send a request to join the EIM Consortium Linkedin Group. As usual, feedback and comments on this post are welcome.