Chase the Data, Not the IT

Information Technology-’IT’-is expensive. Every CEO, CFO, COO-virtually every administrator at every akin of every aggregation in actuality knows that accurate fact. It’s usually a above band account in every aggregation budget.

For the IT department, managing the aggregation abstruse adequacy agency aboriginal award a artefact that meets whatever charge the aggregation has appear up with (and sometimes the odd whim of a alone manager), afresh the purchase, installation, training, and aliment of the hardware, software, networks, and databases that go forth with the tool. Afresh you get to anguish about interfaces amid the tools, reports, aegis (both centralized and external), and the wonderful, irrepressible, eccentric, and oftentimes abolition habits of the end users even afterwards you’ve provided complete end-to-end training on the new product.

Then anyone changes their apperception and you get to do it all over again.

I alone accept every city breadth should accept a clandestine cover for IT managers. This ability should appear complete with areas for the briefly batty to conduct claimed and agitated abolition of computer hardware, accommodate them a authority of punching accoutrements fabricated to attending like apprenticed (not stupid, just unrealistic) aggregation officers, and an added stomping arena abounding of dummies fabricated to resemble a array of knuckle-headed end users. And a appropriate abode of hell for hackers…

Such a ability would be abounding to accommodation at all times.

The carelessness doesn’t stop with the IT department. For added aggregation managers, IT changes agency hours or canicule of training, blow and accident of abundance that comes with IT problems, failures, or arrangement upgrades.

For sales staff, an IT annihilate can beggarly absent opportunity, accident of revenue, and a beneath than arch angel of the aggregation that can break in a customer’s apperception for years. Salesmen may never affected a bad chump acquaintance generated by bootless IT. The byword “the computer is your friend” is not broadly announced a allotment of sales people.

But IT is a all-important evil, isn’t it? What aggregation could action afterwards it?

Well, it is necessary. Even an active adolescent man or woman entering the workforce for the aboriginal time mowing yards needs a way for barter to ability him/her, a way to administer a schedule, maybe even a way to clue who has paid their bill.

But does IT accept to be evil?

What if the evil-ness comes because we’re aggravating to break the amiss botheration with the IT? We’re aggravating to force a annular peg into a aboveboard hole, apperception IT can break our botheration afterwards in actuality anecdotic what the botheration is? We buy computers, networks, communications, and all sorts of things to do one thing-capture and administer information. A simple actuality that we inherently all apperceive but appearance over-it isn’t the IT that’s important, it’s what’s traversing that IT.

It’s about the data. Those little $.25 and bytes that accomplish up characters that accomplish up abstracts elements that adhere into advice that gives us ability that added transforms into intelligence that can be acclimated and acted upon.

It’s about the data. Yet we hunt the accoutrement active the data.

But delay (you say)! We accept our databases. That’s allotment of the IT. That’s area our advice is stored. We charge the IT to get to our information. It’s OUR information.

Well, yes… array of.

But not really. Your aggregation does abundance abstracts into the databases accompanying to your company, usually central a proprietary database that is allotment and bindle to the software you’ve purchased. Most-or at atomic a abundant deal-of that abstracts is bifold in added systems, some centralized to your company, but a lot of in fact in some added alien system. And ambience up a database is harder work, what with accepting items identified, parsed, confused into the able fields, verified, and such. It takes time and manpower which translates into dollars spent.

And how simple is it to get it aback out of that database already you’ve absitively to move on to the next air-conditioned IT product? How abounding IT managers plan an avenue action at the aforementioned time they’re developing their accretion strategy? If you buy a proprietary product, do you apperceive what abstracts rights you accept and how you’ll get out of that artefact if the time comes? Because it will. (By the way, the acknowledgment is about ‘no’-it’s harder abundant to get the artefact up and active while cogent your bell-ringer and aggregation administration that you’re already planning (and spending funds on) its demise.)

OK, so who has the abstracts (where is your database in actuality amid and who manages it? Who has access? Who owns it (don’t accomplish an acceptance here))? How will it be delivered aback so you can move it to a competitor’s platform? Do you charge to buy a proprietary (meaning, expensive) apparatus to abstract the data? Who handles problems? Who maintains the affidavit over the years so you in actuality apperceive what that database looks like and in fact what anniversary aspect agency (because that changes too)? This borders on the aberrant but X may not consistently and always beggarly X, or maybe now its X+2. Maybe X is now alpha-numeric admitting it started out as numeric only. This advice is in fact vital-what afflicted and when? Afterwards that documentation, you accept no way of alive if your abstracts is complete, if its in actuality actual or if its been corrupted.

Love your database managers.

So, aback to who in actuality owns the data. Even if your imminently astute IT administrator has the bases covered as far as database buying and all, do you in actuality own the abstracts elements?

No. You own the intelligence that comes from application the data, and any consecutive accumulator and retrieval of that intelligence, but you don’t in fact get to adjudge the abstracts elements that comprise that intelligence.

For instance, the US Amusing Aegis number. The US Government owns it-its anatomy and rules, and the agreeable assigned per individual. Your aggregation has no say in the matter. It can, however, be acclimated in assorted ways. Some IT systems use all nine characters-with or afterwards the dashes-while some alone accumulate the endure four, six, or seven. Added countries accept claimed identification numbers that attending annihilation like the US SSN. Now what?

How continued is a ‘name’ and who gets to adjudge what it looks like (no arrangement I’m acquainted of could abduction the attribute Prince acclimated for a while)? How continued can a name be? What appropriate characters are allowed? How abounding names can one being accept (first/last/middle or 6-7 names, Aliases, Previously Accepted As)?

Within countries, some will say the government owns abundant of the added alone identifiable advice (generally abbreviated to “PII”) for that country (probably the US a allotment of them). There may even be some all-embracing bunch that accept they ‘own’ abstracts accompanying to their acreage of ability (but I bet there’s added bunch that would disagree with that position).

We could go on. The point is that no one ‘owns’ a abstracts element, at atomic annihilation that’s agreed aloft globally, and that’s a problem.


Because we are all-around creatures active as associates of a all-around environment. No man (or country) is an island. Abstracts campaign about our apple at the acceleration of anticipation through amusing media and commutual systems. It’s perpetual-once a ‘thought’ is out there, it’s out there for acceptable because about it’s been captured by an IT ‘system’.

Data is attainable from around anywhere and we can apprentice something about annihilation with a few key acclamation (although we accept no way of alive the accuracy of what we find).

So, being is out there in a deluge of forms, some of it is correct, some of it isn’t, and you charge appropriate accoutrement to get abundant of it.

How do we apperceive what we know? Personally, I anticipate this era will eventually be accepted as the Second Dark Ages because we don’t apperceive what we apperceive and accept no way to abduction (into perpetuity) our knowledge. Or the aisle of emails, notes, memos, etc that tells how we came to that knowledge, why we fabricated that decision, why that accurate aisle was chosen, etc.

PCs, laptops, adaptable accessories accommodate a abundance of advice that belongs to an alone or often, a aggregation or organization. If that accessory goes to the Abundant Recycling Bin in the Sky, usually through a absurd harder drive which makes the abstracts it contains inaccessible, all that abstracts is lost. Fade to black.

I abounding a address already that said in 1900 animal ability was acceleration every 50 years. In 1950 it was every 25 years, in 1998 (when I heard this) it was every 10 years, and by 2020 it would be every 72 days. Say what? How do we abduction that? How do we apperceive what we apperceive if it’s all captured in disparate databases, disparate devices, in altered forms?

How on Earth do we administer all of this data/information/knowledge/intelligence?

We charge help. We charge the computers to advice us. As in, Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI could advice us accomplish faculty of all of it, except the ‘all of it’ is broadcast and parsed all over the apple afterwards any accepted anatomy or authoritative structure.

So-what if we chock-full active the IT and instead collection the abstracts (which is what we wish anyway)? Just accept we got ascendancy of our data, controlled it, and connected it beyond the globe?

Imagine it-data aspect X looks like this, agency this, is accessed by this nomenclature, endemic (controlled) by this alignment and (maybe) even adapted this way. IT could do whatever it capital with it as continued as it didn’t change the anatomy of the element!

It wouldn’t amount what IT apparatus we used-whatever ill-fitted our needs and budget-because our abstracts was stand-alone and controlled like the Borg-collective. IT cannot change the anatomy or acceptation of the data. Resistance is futile. Companies wouldn’t accept to absorb millions of dollars defining and documenting their database because it would be standardized. They would charge alone to ascertain the abstracts elements they’re absorbed in. A bell-ringer developing a new IT apparatus wouldn’t accept to adapt their apparatus for every customer-the abstracts routines would be accepted (think Services Oriented Architecture on steroids).

Wow! But how? How would be go about locking down data?

It would yield a all-around endeavor, apparently something beneath the United Nations.

Suppose there was a accumulation that took affliction of aggregate associated with Alone Identifiable Information, addition for education, addition for health, addition for accounting, etc etc etc…

It’s mind-boggling. There’d accept to a accumulation just to adjudge which accumulation a section of abstracts should be beatific to for administration (is ‘checking account’ allotment of banking, accounting, personal, or business information?)

There would be arguments.

It’s been approved afore of course, on abundant abate scales by baby organizations. None accept been acknowledged primarily because the accumulation didn’t in actuality own the data. You can’t ascendancy what you don’t own.

I altercate here, however, that it is no best a amount of choice. If we are to abstain acceptable that Second Dark Ages, we accept to acquisition a way to get ascendancy of our abstracts and it accept to be a accepted endeavor.

Start small, anticipate big, move fast…

Why not alpha with a accumulation committed to alone attributes? Ascertain those parameters. Establish the abstracts structure. Ascertain the accoutrement to get to, update, and abolish that data. Afresh move out from there.

Imagine a apple area companies or individuals can buy any IT artefact off the shelf-without the accepted authority associated with above purchases-whenever they want, with whatever accretion and whistles they want, because the abstracts it uses is universally structured. It would save billions of dollars (after the Abundant Abstracts Anatomy in the Sky was set up anyway).

Imagine a apple area abstracts is abstracted from the IT active it. You can accept a database but you can’t change the anatomy or meaning. Some elements may be un-updateable except by an accustomed accumulation (e.g., antecedent abstracts like date of birth) and a adept adaptation captured at whatever akin accounted appropriate-maybe civic afresh synchronized with a all-embracing repository. You can adhere the abstracts into advice and intelligence that (may) become addition section of advice and captured it its own appropriate but you do NOT amend the ‘truth’ abstracts element.

Yes, I know-take two aspirin and anticipate it through… it will aching the gray matter. It’s easier to hunt the IT than get a handle on the data, which is why we go that route. But we accept to start.

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