In case you haven’t seen the nice data decay infographic from ZoomInfo, I’m reposting a smaller version here.




Essentially, the graphic is showing the level of change of master data—and only for business information. Understanding data decay is essential, because many times organizations think that if they establish a huge, one-time effort to clean up their key master data elements, they won’t need to do it again.


Not true, as the data decay infographic shows. Your data can decay over time. Addresses and zip codes are always changing because of postal authorities. People move and change jobs frequently, as described above.


Mergers + acquisitions

One key cause of data decay is mergers or acquisitions. Are there any mergers or acquisitions happening in your industry?  :-) Check out the situation with Sara Lee

Sara Lee renamed its meat business to Hillshire Brands, while the beverage business will be D.E Master Blenders 1753 (which will also be merged with CoffeeCo).


Now let’s think about the kinds of activities you are doing with this type of business master data:

  • Optimizing supplier channels
  • Optimizing logistics costs for suppliers
  • Selling product to the vendor
  • Marketing new products to the vendor
  • Measuring customer satisfaction

To do any of the above tasks, you need a time-based understanding of the company “Sara Lee”, when pieces of its brand were renamed, when pieces of the brand were split, etc. Otherwise, how will you be able to tell if you are doing more or less business with “Sara Lee” this year compared to last year?



The answer, of course, is that you need to establish an organization which understands that information is an asset that can—if bad—be a silent virus. The organization may think they are making good decisions and transacting efficiently, but decayed data is silently making these tasks much less successful.


You’ll also need to establish core quality metrics of you can apply to high priority master data elements. Operationalize these metrics so they run on a recurring schedule. When the quality dips below a certain threshold, you can initiate a corrective program *in advance* of a raging data fire.


You’ll also need a data governance organization that can manage the uses of time-based information so you can inform business analytics.


Are you there? If you are not sure, try checking out the Information Governance Benchmarking and Best Practices survey.

By now, you’ve heard the phrases “data as a strategic asset” or “enterprise information assets”. But how do you get there? Most corporations are just scratching the surface of which practices to put in place to actually support information as an enterprise asset. The incorporation of information governance as a discipline, including tools like SAP enterprise information management and SAP NetWeaver solutions, is viewed by many companies as a way to obtain deep insights into how their organization is using information, and how information enables their success.

By following best practices for information governance, you can deliver on time, eliminate excessive re-works, and reduce costs for your next information projects. Participants of this short survey will receive a confidential and comprehensive analysis report comparing their company's performance against peer groups.

By completing this survey, you can see where your company ranks against the market. Are you behind? Are you ahead? Are other companies spending more on information governance and information as an asset? Are there common best practices that you are not yet following? SAP is launching the new Information Governance Benchmarking Survey to help you answer those questions. The survey covers the following areas:

  • Legal compliance
  • Regulatory and standards compliance
  • Information-heavy projects (e.g. business process engineering, predictive analytics, and strategic initiatives)


Honestly, this phase is building the database of responses. After enough respondents have completed the survey, we will publish the overall results.


These are the kind of results you can immediately get from the survey.


For example, establishing an Information Governance strategy (the first pillar in the above graphic). From the chart, you can see where the top 25% of your peer group ranked themselves, as well as where the average of the peer group ranks. AND you can rank the importance of an Information Governance strategy to your organization, and where you are now in regards to your own corporate competency. You can drill into details, too, but I'm not showing that here.


You can also see where you rank regarding best practices across various information governance disciplines. For example, look at Best Practice #2: The organization defines clear ownership of data, with formalized escalation paths and data quality monitoring mechanisms.


Regarding that best practice, you can again see where the best of your peer group ranks, the average of your peer group, and your own corporate competency. Particularly, for #2 you can see that your company is waaaaaaaaaay below the peer group average.  This becomes a great data point for building an information governance strategy with your organization.


Check it out. Let me know what you think. You always have the option for someone to follow up with you to help you interpret the results and help you make recommendations on how to advance your information governance practice.


Check out the survey here:



If the "Free" part doesn't pull you in, how about this: the Olympic torch will be passing through Maidenhead on the same day! That's hard to compete with, but we think we can do it with the brilliant topic of information governance.


When: Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Where: Objects House, Maidenhead, Berkshire

Who: CIOs, CTOs, IT managers and other IT decision makers; Business analysts, enterprise architects, systems analysts and engineers, technical architects; Data quality and information managers, architects and stewards


This free (did I say FREE) Information Governance Workshop offers a practical one-day event where, through a series of interactive sessions and real-life customer examples, you will learn how to define and implement your own information governance program.  You can check out a full agenda here, but these are the highlights:


How to develop an information governance strategy

We'll show you our Ten Step Guide to Building Your Information Governance Program - designed to equip you with all the know-how needed to deliver trusted enterprise information.


How technology can support your information governance strategy

Hear SAP describe how the SAP Enterprise Information Management solutions can rid your company of 'dirty data' and enable easier governing of information. Our experts will present a series of quick-fire demos showing how each of the solutions covers your complete breadth of information governance needs - from migration, quality, integration and information lifecycle management.


Customer stories

Hear from Dixon's, British American Tobacco and Birmingham City Council. Each customer will be presenting their real life story of implementing an information governance program. You will be able to ask them questions in the open panel discussion, too.


Key presentations will be done by Maria Villar, Tony Harper (Capgemini), and me.  You can see more details about the speakers here.


You can click here to register...for free. 


One last teaser...

We will also be talking about the Information Governance Benchmarking and Best Practices survey. You can use this survey to determine if you are spending the appropriate resources/focus on truly treating information as an asset. And you can benchmark your numbers against your peer groups. In essence, you will finally have statistics to prove if you are normal or not. :-) Look for a future blog post on the survey. UPDATED: Blog on the survey


Join us!


Next week we are heading to sunny San Diego California. SAP is a first-time sponsor of this event (joining IBM, DataFlux, Collibra, Trillium, Kalido, PriceWaterhouseCooper, and GlobalIDs). The event is a gathering of data governance, data quality, and data movement experts. There will be tutorials, case studies, discussion panels, and keynotes.


. Click here to register now


Here are some key sessions:

Shawn Ahmed (SAP) will be presenting on Empowering Your Business for Information Governance 

I will be presenting on How to Get Started and Scale Your Information Governance Program

Byron Banks (SAP) will bring it home with Information Governance for the Real World


We also have a swank customer dinner planned.


We'd love to see you there! If you can't make it, you can follow my @InaSAP twitter updates or check out #DGIQ2012.

In talking to customers last week, they again reinforced that information governance success is still on the horizon for each of them. And these were companies that had a dedicated data governance organization in place for years! Here are some of the key barriers still affecting most customers I talk to, and some general guidance on how to overcome these problems. (Points for you if you can add some of the lyrics or artist to my song choices—or if you can think of a better one!):

  • Stayin’ Alive: They are already very good at manually moving data and fixing it to be fit-for-use. As a consequence, the larger organization does not buy in to the need to focus on information as a critical asset. The impact of this problem is that the EIM group is continually focused on keeping the train on the tracks. They are unable to spend any time/resources on how to make sure that the destination is correct, and that fresh cargo is being delivered.

    Another impact of this dimension is that the business has the perspective that their information is good enough. If the information is good enough, why do they need to participate/own the quality and use of the information that runs their business? Someone else has been taking care of it so far, so what’s the problem?

    Guidance: This one is tricky, but here is what some companies do. Roll up the opportunity cost in a qualitative way. In this way, you’re showing not only how much manual work you are doing now, but what projects you are not able to drive because of this lack of bandwidth. And, of course, what can very well go wrong if information is not considered a core contributor to new strategies, like Big Data or Social. Talk about exposure to risk and how people-dependent your current processes are. (Let me know if this works for you!)
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Management that has lived through an information crisis (delayed go-lives, incorrect compliance reporting, inability to ship product from a plant, unplanned machinery down-time) can be a powerful supporter of the information agenda. However, that management layer changes frequently. Because of this, there’s a continual re-education and justification process for the EIM investment.

    Guidance: Make sure you are continually publishing results in business-value terms—even when you are not immediately being asked for this data. Stockpile your Data Quality Tales of Woe and have those ready to support your metrics (notice the tie to data supported by a story).
  • All My Life I’m Searching for Something: As a result of all of the above tension, groups are focusing one more magic metric. The idea is that if they only had this one additional metric, people would see the value. Perhaps if we had one number that showed the value of information in each business process? Perhaps if we could show the dollar value of each information asset, according to the business usage of that information? Perhaps if we could show exactly how much time (and the cost of that time) we spend ensuring current levels of information quality?

    Guidance: Yes, we can always do a better job putting together business-centric metrics. Percentage of nulls on a field is never going to cut it. However, one more metric is not likely to turn around the conversation. Check out the Made to Stick book for details, but the Heath brothers talk about using emotional stories to help sell your position. It’s a great read. The need for one more metric is highlighting more of an organizational culture problem, which requires a different solution.


As my friend Herman says, “Hope is not a strategy.”  Is your organization experiencing these same challenges? How have you tackled them? What is your strategy for tackling them?