Who am I to let a good theme die? Kudos to Jim Harris for his excellent follow up on his “Brickyard Chaos” blog with an even more insightful “Another Brick in the Wall” blog ( I love the Pink Floyd reference). Truth be told, I’m a bigger classic rock fan than I am a NASCAR fan, thus the association of this blog to the epic “Thick as a Brick” from one of my personal favorites Jethro Tull. I think the title here is appropriate. Jim’s views are grounded in reality and not those of an academic far removed from the challenges we all face on a daily basis. But, we are often faced with the difficult task of communicating the urgency and dire necessity of a comprehensive strategy to those so far removed from the battlefield (the wise men who don’t quite understand the intricacies of it all).
Jim nailed it when he said that Big Data and Data Science are not the only “bricks in the wall”. They just happen to be the hot topic. Over the years, we have successfully (and painstakingly) dissected the premise of an overarching enterprise information management strategy into individual bricks that are required to build the foundation. In truth, these are things that many of us have realized and acknowledged through the years, but Jim’s depiction of the building blocks to realize such a lofty endeavor helps to put it in perspective, and provides hope that we can actually progress toward that goal.
While none of the disciplines mentioned are completely dependent on everything else in the wall being completed and each returns its own distinctive value, none of them can realize their full potential without the wall being completed. A componentized view of these essential building blocks is what we must keep in mind as we strive to achieve the nirvana of true enterprise information management. It makes the journey appear achievable and enables us to communicate a roadmap as to how we may one day be able to reach the end state.
Looking at each of the programs represented by Jim’s bricks, one can begin to imagine the projects required (many may already be in play in your organization) to support these strategic initiatives. Master Data Management, Reference Data Management, Data Quality, Data Warehousing, the list goes on. The important thing to realize is that each of these, often disparate, projects should all contribute to the overall betterment of the enterprise by supporting the essential building blocks of an all-encompassing information strategy. This is where I feel that a visionary CIO can have the greatest impact.
Setting the vision and keeping a handle on what the high-impact projects are and how they lend themselves to the end state of a well-managed information infrastructure that supports the direction that the business is heading should be the role of the CIO. Unfortunately, most CIOs spend their time doing damage control rather than being visionary. So many IT organizations are in such disrepair that it is nearly impossible for a CIO to be both sides of that coin (as the song Thick as a Brick states “the doer and the thinker, no allowance for the other”). Newsflash: it’s not always the CIO’s fault, but I’ll cover my views on that in a future blog.