It’s 2014. Do you know where your data is?

Good article…Might be interesting to discuss what data to centralize and what not to.

Gigaom

It’s no secret that over the last year, companies have adopted and deployed big data architectures and analytics like never before. They’ve caught the big data bug and they’re using the insights gleaned from that data to anticipate, plan and react to situations in real-time. If your organization is doing this, then you’ve likely seen great results, but have you ever stopped to think about how secure your data and, in turn, your decisions are?

Decisions, changes and new technologies, like data analytics, are being implemented so quickly that legacy processes simply can’t keep up. The gap between new and legacy systems is often just wide enough for a security risk to slip through. Once these risks penetrate the gap, they’re moving at the speed of light themselves, diving into data and jumping back out before businesses even know what hit them. You don’t have to look far to see…

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Tacit I.T. Leadership pt. 1- What and How

Previously, I posted about how good data leadership is foundational to the “Internet of Things”.  This was about enabling machines and computers by increasing their ability to share information with each other. We recognized the benefit in their ability to leverage information from systems external to themselves but related by common business environments. To me, this organic growth is not unlike what the most effective leaders do on a regular basis. It is the skill of integrating personal experience with contextual intelligence… Kind of a predictive analytics engine in the brain.

This talent is one of the earmarks of successful leaders. It is not just awareness of how to do something, but enhancing that with knowing why it should be done and therefore what action will give the best result. One phrase that I have seen used for this is “tacit knowledge”. Way back in 1966 a man named Michael Polyani wrote a book on this subject that he called “The Tacit Dimension”. Without getting too heady, tacit knowledge is the integration of the data warehouse in your brain…a combination of experience, observation, emotion, intuition and insight to yield wisdom in a particular area.

Most likely 80% of the people reading this are ready move on to something else. We are all quite busy and probably not looking for a Bob Sacca lecture. (He has been known to pontificate!) However, for the remaining 20% I will try to describe what I notice in highly talented IT leaders. I will put more in one of those “Part 2” things that I love to do. But, to start, here is some stuff to set the stage.

Power vs. Potential

A car by itself has power, but the skill and knowledge of the driver give a car potential. Think about this when filling positions in your organization. A candidate may have a lot of knowledge about business process, but a better candidate would be someone who has a strong level of understanding of business process and experience in the subject matter that they are leading.  The ability to combine the power of their business process knowledge with a level of expertise that subject area experience gives is their potential. I would look for the candidate with the maximum potential. It is the more complete solution that will best serve the purpose.

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A strong IT leader can add business acumen to their technological expertise. When added to an awareness of any current influencing factors (Contextual intelligence), they attain the instinct and intuition that can maximize success. “Tacit” IT Leadership is much more than understanding how to work a P&L statement. It is also knowing what is the most appropriate course of action from a technical perspective should be taken.

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Yes, the internet of things will be great, once we get the mess untangled

This is a good read…Trading data units!

Gigaom

If you thought the in-house data silos of the client-server era were a nightmare, get ready for the hairball that the internet of things could engender. As tens of billions of “things” — sensors, machines, mobile devices — get connected to the internet and to each other, there will be huge value in the data they generate across applications ranging from agriculture, to senior care, to public works. 

But there’s a lot of heavy lifting to do first. We know we can collect the data — but how to process it, analyze it and share it securely in a way that makes sense and doesn’t give people the heebie-jeebies? These are topics we’ll dive into at Gigaom’s Structure show in June.

Some parts of the internet infrastructure are ready for this IoT onslaught already. “If just 15 to 18 percent of all dark fiber is lit up now, there’s still tremendous amount of capacity…

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Data Leadership and the “Internet of Things”

My first taste of the internet was when I had an Intel 386 based PC. I discovered that I can use my super-fast phone modem to access content that did not live on my hard drive. With the help of MS Windows 386, and a dial up connection to “CompuServe”, I was reading text base feeds and downloading GIF files to proudly display on my new EGA monitor. I was no longer constrained by content coming from floppy drives and my world started to move past playing “Leisure Suite Larry”. Back then, my view of the internet was completely focused on what content this medium could deliver to me. Content is the blood that flows through the internet’s veins.

Content is a general name we give to the pieces of information that we are trying to communicate. As the internet grew, the type of content that was available to be communicated evolved. From plain text to hypertext (HTML) to pictures, music and video, use of the internet as a medium for content has grown organically.

All internet content can be considered pieces of data. Conversely, data itself is content. Data elements as well as complete data sets can be sent from sender to receiver to enable our businesses to work more efficiently.

Now we have what is being called “The Internet of Things”. Computers and machines consume and provide data through the internet enabled to work more intelligently. This offers businesses advantage. To maximize the potential of this advantage, businesses must re-think how they look at data. Data becomes a commodity requiring a higher level of management.

  • What can data do for us that it is not doing today?
  • What data do we expose and to whom?
  • What are the potentials for misuse?
  • How do we expose the data and protect our intellectual property?
  • How should it be organized?
  • How can we store it and retrieve it optimally?
  • What gains can be made through its use?

All of these questions call for data leadership and data governance. Both are needed to ensure optimal effective data use, and have responsibilities significant and specialized enough to warrant dedicated resources. Many believe it substantial enough to warrant a “C” level position. It is very common now to see businesses with “Chief Data Officers” who are well versed technically, but lean more towards the functional optimization of the data content of their organization.

Data Evolution

How does data evolve? Understanding how data can become ready to be consumed by the “Internet of Things” is important for anyone developing a data value maximization strategy.

data evol

Data Evolution

All data starts as a raw entity that is collected or created for singular business processes. As strategic use matures, data is presented in different ways that allow additional use cases to consume them.

  1. Shared Data – Data that is made accessible to applications other than its origin via APIs or Services.
  2. Open Data and Enabled Data – Data accessible as a service. Catalogued and exposed through an interface open to users to fetch and consume as needed.
  3. Machine Readable Data – Once data has been opened, it is formatted in a manner that allows it to be consumed programmatically.
  4. Open Standards Data – Standards are applied to the machine readable formats which facilitate consumption by entities or machines that may be agnostic of the data source.
  5. Linkable Data – Data accessible based on an “electronically accessible” catalog of metadata describing the data’s attributes.
  6. Linked Data – Data sets from disparate sources that together present a desired result

Data that is linkable is empowered by its ability to join with other linkable data to create much richer, more robust and more directed results for programs that may be consuming them. This translates to better decision making and a greater competitive edge. Here is a link to a video that explains it nicely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uju4wT9uBIA

I.T. Bloat

Lack of data leadership can result in disparate methods of data access. Organizations may assume that data and I.T. fall under the same umbrella. This model can focus on the mechanics of storing and moving data, but is too distant from the business content of the data. So, each element is met with individual solutions to meet the specific requirements presented by a discreet requestor. This results in a lack of standardization necessary to orchestrate an overall strategy. Additionally, it contributes to the problem of I.T. becoming a cost center rather than a value center…too many solutions with different administrative resources required to keep them going.

Sound Data Leadership is foundational to establishing a position that is prepared to evolve…both for “The Internet of Things” and whatever may come next, while at the same time governing an overall view of the return that data can and will provide.

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Data Leadership

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The value of data            

The key variable that defines any organizations growth potential is in the ability of its leaders to make the right decisions. Successful decisions are based on insight which is the product of informed processing of data. Data is the fuel that drives relevancy, engagement, response and ultimately: Revenue. What is even better is that this fuel is a highly sustainable and reusable resource. It can be used, but not exhausted. It is an asset that when properly invested in, can produce endless return.

Properly leveraged, data can be used to advance today’s goals towards profitable end. Leadership however, is not only concerned with reaching goals, it is also focused upon the direction that the successful completion of these goals can take the organization. Data Leadership:

  • Recognizes the potentials of information beyond its initial reason for collection
  • Provides vision and ability to advance tomorrows goals as we work on today’s

Data-phobia      

Far too often, the true business value of data is overshadowed by the potentials for misuse and subsequent negative impacts the business. Awareness of these dangers is fully justifiable. However, focusing solely on protection from the threat can stifle this critical resource. Risk myopia enfeebles the resource, preventing potential reward.

Other times, people and groups can be territorial about their intellectual property. Lines are drawn that exclude any potential for data sharing.

  • “What if someone uses my efforts to do something better than me?”
  • “This came from our work; we should control everything about it.”
  • “Knowledge is power, so we should make sure our power can only be used by us.”
    My Precious

Sometimes, groups can do such a thorough job at collecting information that they forget the power of corporate citizenship. They actually become a roadblock to the broader potentials that their data can bring to a wider context. How an organization decides to leverage their data resource can have a strong impact on the business as a whole.

Data management

Typically, organizations feel satisfied that due diligence is achieved when they have efforts in place for “Data Management”.  This practice is normally limited to:

  • Understanding how data is used and structuring it to optimize that use
  • Assuring data quality and accurate collection
  • Protection by global generalization (locking it all down)

Unfortunately, sufficing with data management solutions frequently will limit potentials for data to the use for which the information was collected, or a smaller area of impact that that information can be used to obtain.

Data Leadership              

“Data Leadership” expands on the management of data by understanding its value and methods that can be used to leverage it. Data Leadership considers:

  • Maximizing the opportunities of the resource through strategic business application
  • Increasing the sphere of potential by assuring its availability to other creative minds within the organization
  • Providing proper investment into data identification, classification and security
  • Promoting growth through reuse of the resource
  • Internally facilitating the “Internet of Things” to maximize organic growth

While data management focuses on “use” data leadership is more about leveraging data as a business advantage.

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When everything is data, there’s opportunity in everything

Gigaom

Today, nearly every part of our world can reduced to a number. Physical, digital, alive, inanimate — everything is a source of data just waiting to be processed and analyzed. When the technologies for carrying out that processing and analysis improve, everything likely will be turned into data. It’s both a fascinating thought and a scary one, because for better or for worse, data will truly be a kingmaker.

We can see the writing on the wall already; in Google’s $400 billion valuation and steady creep into our homes, and in the National Security Agency’s relentless quest to suck up every piece of personal information under the sun. They want omnipotence and omnipresence, and they know the path to those goals is lined with data. And when we look past questions of whether we can stop them or if we even should want to, we should all see the…

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25 Ways to Spot Leaders You Can Trust

I like this guys observations. He has some great articles on leadership.

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The Cloud Up-Sell (Cloud vs. Fluff)

Information Technology is evolving around us at an ever increasing rate. Many companies are looking to “The Cloud” to reduce costs and improve efficient use of technical resources.

Although there is no universal definition of “The Cloud”, cloud computing generally refers to the use of dynamically allocated computing capacities either of third parties or shared in-house infrastructures. Use of these resources can provide the benefit of decreased cost of ownership when third party companies are used…or make the use of in-house resources more efficient. This is a highly attractive opportunity for businesses looking to reduce their IT spend while maintaining service levels.

Cloud-Fluff

Unfortunately, the ambiguity of the “cloud” buzzword creates opportunity for third party suppliers to pad their cloud offerings with services that may not deliver the same level of benefit. If you have ever haggled with a car dealer, you know that selling add-ons and options above their value is a well-known way to boost margins. Vendors will offer services as part of their cloud catalog that can bring with them elements of risk. Just because they are presenting it as a cloud service, does not mean that it necessarily is one.

The key value in cloud use is to offset the cost of highly commoditized resources. To be commoditized this work must be widely available and interchangeable. That means the root value returned by the service is no different regardless of the supplier. The method of delivery for these services may vary, but the base product is the same.

Here is a list of the benefits that a true cloud offering brings:

Criteria Comments
improved speed Commoditized services can be provisioned or decommissioned immediately by the consumer usually via automated “Shopping cart” style interfaces.  As business need varies, resources may be adjusted dynamically to meet required volumes
decreased cost Resources and their cost vary dynamically based on actual need rather than anticipated maximum requirements
increased quality Commoditized resources are built to be pre-delivered with expected quality
reduced variation Services are built and delivered in a “cookie-cutter” manner and therefore offer minimal opportunity for divergence from expected results
unified standards Every provisioned resource by nature can only operate within programmed and expected parameters
greater agility Automatically provisioned resources offer greater flexibility of use

The level of a cloud services ability to deliver these items should be the measuring-stick for which different cloud options are evaluated. Highly commoditized resources by nature will meet these criteria. Padded services that are not as commoditized should be considered with some skepticism.  Non-compute based cloud services will have lower yield on these criteria and may actually be counter-productive to non-cloud alternatives.

One key differentiator for true cloud services could be the level of human resources involved in the offering.  By nature, human beings do not have the same ability for parallel operation and multitasking as dynamic compute resources. This is in contrast to the premise upon which the cloud derives its value. Conversely, real compute resources do not have the creative capacity that can be offered by humans who have dynamic first-hand awareness of the fluidity that exists in the business environment they are working in.

Human based services are not true cloud services. Rather, they are only outsourced purchased services. The expectations and requirements for purchased services are different and their value must be evaluated accordingly.  When looking at third party cloud offerings, awareness of the differences between real cloud resources and add-on services will reduce potential risks for loss.

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