Data fragmentation challenges restrict business flexibility

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Unless the problem of fragmented data and process ownership within the business is tackled, improvement will be constrained by political barriers, and any progress is likely to be constrained if existing data management practices and ownership models are perpetuated.

Simply getting line of business managers to agree on who owns the data in the first place can be a challenge (Figure 2).

This illustrates just how big an issue the lack of ownership of information and business processes is. It is worthwhile noting that figure 2 records the views of senior business managers rather than those working in IT.

From the chart it is clear that these ownership issues are widely recognised and they are frequently far bigger inhibitors to organisational change and agility than issues with IT itself.

As a consequence, it is also obvious that this is a challenge that IT cannot address alone, even though in most businesses looking after data is often subconsciously delegated to IT.

This can further stress IT staff and CIOs as they may be compelled to make decisions on data matters which really require line of business input and knowledge.

So what can the CIO do in the face of all these people-problems?

Accept the challenge exists
The first step is to accept that the challenges exist and getting the senior management team to recognise that this matters to the health of the business.

The last things any CIO should want is to have the business pass responsibility for data ownership to IT without business managers taking ownership of key decisions on data management.

This approach inevitably leads to issues as IT rarely has a full understanding of the business context and value of all sources of data held in the company.

Build a information architecture group
An obvious next step is then to build an information architecture group with authority delegated by executive management.

The group’s function should be to develop and maintain over time a strategic understanding of the organisation’s data and information requirements.

It would also seek to ensure that information resources are built efficiently and utilised effectively whenever new
projects arise.

This will take time and effort, and require a lot of people working together, but the business benefits are potentially huge.

Tony Lock is programme director at Freeform Dynamics

Pic: MrB-MMXcc2.0

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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