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Who’s Your Data?

It’s been nine-and-a-half months since I last posted on the subject of “big data,” and it’s been fascinating to read and hear so many experts offer so many perspectives on this increasingly important subject. Perhaps the most recent of these is friend John Mancini’s piece last week called Big Data and Big Content – just hype or a real opportunity?, which includes a diagram that dragged intensive thoughts about ownership into the swirling muddied waters of vocabulary.

We can argue until cows come home about whether big data and big content are the same things or different, and to what degree, if any, this actually matters. But what does matter is who is responsible for this big data and big content, in terms of their capture, governance, security, and usability. Pretty much everything else in terms of best practices and vendor selection flows from this question, for the answer(s) will — or at least should — frame your policies, technologies, and ultimately your prospects for success.

Looking at structured and unstructured data as a single collective asset to be managed is one of the first signs that a new era of information management is upon us, and it is especially validating for this humble observer, who has spent much of the past 15 years urging organizations to view content as content, and to mix in this tool or that only when it has become clear what exactly they are dealing with, and what precisely they wish to accomplish.

The appearance of master data management in AIIM’s new Certified Information Professional syllabus is further evidence of how closely intertwined the once-siloed data and content arenas have become, and is one reason I fully and immediately embraced the creation of the free exam preparation videos that are now available and am now on the verge of offering in-person prep classes on the subject.

Now, I understand if you haven’t yet bought into this concept, and there is no judgment if you never do since many people feel that business-as-usual is working just fine, and that there is no reason to consider doing anything differently. But the increasing and accelerating adoption of social media and Web 2.0-style applications — both of which frequently draw on big databases to personalize their content — means that there is a real risk of being squeezed between the two realities: one that separates data from content, and the other that views them as opposite sides of a single coin

At the end of the day, what happens in your organization depends upon who it is that is setting the direction and how they are approaching their jobs. My question for you is, “who’s your data” where you work?

This brief rant was written at the start of the 2012 AIIM Conference in San Francisco, where I will be for the next two days. Conversations, collaborations, and, yes, even constructive complaints are cheerfully accepted both in the hallways conference and electronically e-mail, Twitter, or whatever other means floats your boat.

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