GartnerSym – Key Priorities in Data Management and Integration

My first session today was about Data Management and Integration (DM&I), which although is primarily related to the work i am doing for Socitm is actually a very interesting and relevant topic.
For local government to be effective and efficient the business systems which it relies on to meet its business objectives must interoperate and collaborate. In most organisations, these systems have evolved over a number of years, and in the majority of cases utilise a number of differing technologies, platforms and packages. To maximise business benefit and with the growing reliance on the internet as a mechanism for enabling customers, business and partners to access systems, interoperability between systems is becoming ever more important.
Recently I’ve seen DM&I as a conceptual model for intelligent and strategic commissioning in local government. I also see a huge relationship and cross over to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – SOA is an approach for aligning business needs with IT investment and then building distributed systems that deliver application functions as loosely coupled services. This provides a well-modeled and reusable basis for common business functions. SOA offers a standard way to represent and interact with application functions by building on open standards.
As Public Service pressures increase, IT constraints are also rising. The most fundamental question being asked by service managers is how to build business applications to support business change or how do i increase my business agility? In other words, how to take legacy systems that constrain business today and make them assets for the business. IT structures frequently hamper business agility, so it is imperative to understand how to break down IT barriers to flexibility and innovation.
Enough of the broad overview, now on to my notes and observations:
The session was provided by Gartner Analyst Mark Beyer who shared the following Strategic Planning Assumption: By 2015, data management governance strategies — which include metadata management, master data management and data quality capabilities — will more quickly absorb more data and data types, lowering data integration costs by as much as 20% annually.
The Key Priorities
  • new data types
  • extreme data volume
  • data quality
  • data integration
  • master data management
  • alternative strategies
  • metadata management
One aspect which i think does not get enough attention and is critical Metadata management and this is critical for DM&I – Essentially metadata makes everything useful – which in turn informs what information/data assets look like and how to use and transform them
Competencies – organisations need to look at developing competencies in all aspects of DM&I, in particular Master Data Management, Service Oriented Architecture and Data Quality.
You also need to ensure that you have Data Stewards, whose responsibility is to understand when data crosses a domain.
Cloud and cloud based failures – In just over a one-week period during 2009, a number of Internet-based services experienced embarrassing failures that affected millions of people. A couple of examples.

  • 31 January, ma.gnolia, a large provider of personal bookmarks, experienced a fatal data corruption.
  • 1 February, Google’s Internet search capability became unavailable for up to 45 minutes.
Emerging trends
The new types of information – Unstructured data types, social networks, video, audio etc will present challenges and opportunities within the DM&I area.
There were a set of do’s and don’t but i didn’t get a chance to capture what was on the slide.

Guru, Evangelist, Expert…Ninja!!

I came across this article In the Search for a Hot Job Title, Enter the Ninja which is from April this year but i just had to share it here as it appealed to me.

You hear a lot about Social Media Gurus, Experts and even Evangelists – how long before we get a Social Media Ninja?

Now i for one enjoy the use of these names, although i can’t say that the people who use them are actually what they say they are but i do admire the fun that it puts into Job Titles – somehow for me personally they seem better than – Adminsitrative Assistent, Programmer, Officer etc. After all it is what you do that counts surely, not your job title.

However i do actually like the meaning behind Ninja:-

Ninjas aren’t assassins, insists Mr. Kawakami, who trains by walking on his big toes. A real ninja must have stealth, intelligence, a righteous heart and patience, he says.

“Lacking any one of those, you cannot make a useful ninja. These things are required in the business world as well,” he says.

Via: In the Search for a Hot Job Title, Enter the Ninja –  Wall Street Journal

I am a big fan of these qualities (they are pretty much required in Local Government right now) – It is very unlikely that my job title will ever change to include the word Ninja in the foreseeable future BUT in my heart at least i will follow the way of the Ninja – Who’s with me?

Hats Off: A different approach by Swansea Scrutiny

Further the WordPress survey i have conducted recently i have started to see some really great examples of how councils are looking at opening up and looking at becoming more transparent.

There are many great examples but i’d like to share this one in particular because the Scrutiny Function of councils is not an area you would immediately thought of when considering WordPress, but it is actually a perfect candidate.

Scrutiny committees monitor how the councils Cabinet / Executive Committee puts the Council’s policies into effect, examining in detail how the goals are being met and making recommendations for change and improvement.

They can “call in” a decision which has been made by the Cabinet / Executive Committee but not yet implemented. This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate and they may recommend that the Cabinet / Executive Committee reconsiders it.

Opening this process up in a more conversational style and sharing stuff more proactively could allow the public to take a more proactive role in scrutiny in the future – something the Coalition Government are hoping to encourage through greater access to information.

Dave McKenna from Swansea Council introduces the blog in this way:

I suppose I should say a little about why we have set it up. Well the main reason is to share some information about what overview & scrutiny in Swansea is doing in way that is a little more accessible than what you can get from Council agendas, reports and minutes. Hopefully we will also start some conversations around some of the topics we are looking at. We believe that many of the topics will be of real interest to people in Swansea but we also know that awareness of what overview and scrutiny actually is about is very low.

Hence this different approach.

via Swansea Scrutiny.

I hope this approach works for them and encourages other councils to consider doing something similar or building on it.

Hands Up for Fairer School Funding

Hands up for Fairer Funding

Earlier this week Devon schools launched a campaign called Hands Up to Fairer School Funding to persuade government to tackle the inequalities in the funding system for schools and end the post-code lottery that affects young people, not just in Devon but all across the country.

The aims of the campaign are simple:

A fairer Government funding system that:

  • recognises every child matters equally
  • ends the postcode lottery of education funding in this country.

As a father of two young boys (3 and 5) who are both at the same school, (Nursery and Year 1 as of writing this) it does cause me a great deal of concern that just because we choose to live in a particular location we and i really mean my children are effectively penalized and the school they attend receives less funding then other schools around the country.

According to the campaign website key facts page – a primary school in Devon with approximately 200 pupils are effectively losing £75,000 a year due to the current school funding system.

Now i don’t know what your local school is like, but i’m very proud of the school my kids attend and i know the teachers and all the staff do an excellent job and deliver good quality if not excellent levels of Education already. So why should i really concern myself with this – because to me this just isn’t fair. Now i’m sure every parent could come up with a list of things they would like their school to do which would effectively cost more money. More teachers, more teaching assistants, smaller classes, more and or better equipment, more ICT, a laptop for every child, the list could go on and on. But the point of this is that unless we look to change the funding system, those things we would all like our schools to do or buy will only ever remain on a list of “things we like to have”.

The most important thing to remember is if you are a parent and your children are in school then this DOES impact on you and your children.

I am going to support this campaign because i feel passionately about the future of my children. If you feel the same then why don’t you get involved or pledge your support – Speak to your local school and find out what they are doing to support this, whatever you feel you can do, don’t you feel it will be worth it.