Blogger: Lyn Robison
Every competent IT department does data modeling and therefore knows what kind of information the buiness requires and what kind of data structures hold the enterprise’s information.
I realize that many IT departments have not performed adequate data modeling and don’t yet know “what kind” of information they have, but I am going to mention the need to go beyond type and to begin identifying instances. When dealing with enterprise information, it is often more important to answer “which one?” than “what kind?”
As I explained in my “Are your assets fungible?” post, when it comes to enterprise information, instances are often just as important as types – and sometimes more so. When you can identify the instances within your enterprise information, you can manage important business information across data silos. You can begin to do silo-bridging instead of silo-busting.
Imagine if you knew whether “Customer 57” in one silo is the same as “Cust XYZ” in another silo. Businesspeople could begin to do cross-silo joins of customer information. Now think about vendors/suppliers. Your enterprise could begin to consolidate purchases across departments to get better pricing and terms. Think about products, assets, employees, policies, decisions, etc.
In my Hippocratic Oath for Computer Systems post, I mention the fact that if information has to go from one human being, through a computer system, to another human being, the computer system should not get in the way. The computer system must not distort or damage the information. Sometimes this means that the computer system should not try too hard to understand the data, because if the computer data model is inadequate, the information will be distorted going into and coming out of the computer system. When transmitting information between humans, transmitting the instance without mucking with the meaning is often the best thing for a computer system to do.