I attended Osney Media’s TSAM conference last week in London – I always enjoy the event, it brings together senior level industry practitioners for thought-provoking discussion and debate. I participated in the panel discussion in the data management stream entitled “Overcoming the challenge of communication issues within data management”. My co-panellists were Shannon Walker, Business Architect – Finance Change, Deutsche Bank, Arun Sarwal, CEO Investment Management Solutions at DST Global Solutions and David Renn, Head of the Data Management practice at Citisoft. The discussion was moderated by Gary Pringle, Vice President, J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
There were a few areas covered in the discussion. First-up, we talked about buzzwords we use in data management … the theme quickly turned into – buzzwords that cause most confusion. There was fairly unanimous agreement that the expression “meta-data” was the most misunderstood buzzword being bandied about and the one that causes most confusion – so meta data is data about data – everyone clear on that – but then it splits into meta-content (data about the data content) and meta-structure (data about the structure and data container). Other buzz words the panel agreed caused confusion:
- “Data-Warehouse” versus “Data-Mart” versus “Data-Store” versus “Data-Hub”; then, what about “silo”, “operational data store”, “historical data stores”, “as-of / effective on data stores”.
One thing the panel unanimously agreed was that data warehousing is a toxic term at C-level! Maybe this is why so many different other expressions have evolved to describe data warehouse like systems….
- Managed Data Services – a lot of vendors are in the market with data management in the cloud with value-added “managed data services” (yes I am one of them…..) but each vendor means different things when they bandy that term about – where the managed data service starts and ends on a vendor by vendor basis can be extreme..
The theme of the discussion then changed to ‘Governance’ and how strong governance could lead to lower risk – as expected no one had a contrary argument – but the views of the panel were quite clear on one point – many firms talk the talk about governance, they have appointed their Chief Data Officer or Tsar, but in general there is not enough bite or budget connected to the role to allow it operate efficiently. My own views are fairly black and white on this point – too many firms pay lip service to the application of an efficient stewardship function that actually walks the walk that the governance speaks to – governance (strategy) without stewardship (tactical execution) is a pointless window dressing exercise.
There were many comments in earlier discussions that mandates now routinely ask in-depth questions on the governance structures in place, expect these due diligences to extend into examination of the tactical application of the governance to expose the level of stewardship in the firm and its relative effectiveness in carrying out the governance remit.
My own views on governance and the reasons it remains an area for investment are simple
- Governance with effective stewardship will drive costs lower and reduce risk exposure
- It positions firms to take control of their own data
- There are demands in the front-office from distribution to broaden the depth and breadth of data and demands for a more agile approach to product data publication cycles
- Data is the oil in the sales engine – without oil the engine cannot run, with dirty oil the engine will run but eventually seize up.
- The increased demands for data quality, depth and breadth is driving requirements for scale in compliance and audit
- The cost of managing data is going up and firms not set to scale in this area are being left behind.
I will end this section of the blog here, as it’s getting quite long and I’ll post another one about the rest of the discussion in a few days time.