Tag Archives: data

Workplace Warfare: the Myth of Information Management

During my lengthy-albeit-rambling stint in the professional workplace, I’ve been a data jockey of some sort or another.  Titles like drafter, designer, administrator, specialist and analyst may seem to describe diverse roles but they all had at their core a need to translate one person’s vague vision into another’s crystal ball.

When I was promoted to fired-up but naive product data wrangler for a US manufacturer, I had this stupid idea that creating a reliable, robust information management system would have grateful department heads erecting statues in my honor.  But when it came time to put some rubber to the road, I met a resistance to process improvement more powerful than any force known to nature.  Once managers learned my new role, I found myself persona non grata at– of all things– information strategy meetings.

And it’s because, deep down, people really don’t want their information managed.  And they’ll fight to keep it that way.  Continue reading

Cloudy days for data, Part 1

Several years ago I was in a product data management role for a major US manufacturer, assessing our information management landscape and helping my boss develop a road map for bringing the 160-year-old company’s engineering systems and processes into the modern age.  What I discovered shocked me although I really should not have been surprised: the vast majority of our mission-critical business data was sequestered in spreadsheets and shared virally via emails.

This sort of working environment tends to spring up as a consequence of two conditions:

  1. Often the information management system(s) are lacking in necessary features, disconnected, difficult to utilize, poorly represented or even non-existant;
  2. People want to hold on to their stuff

Anecdotally, I found the latter to be the greater evil.  When information managers try to improve the first condition, they encounter resistance due to the second.  After all, information is power, and the gut feeling is that if we relenquish any control over it we lose apparent value.  So the people who could benefit most from fixing broken sharing systems often hurt themselves by actually becoming part of the problem.

Continue reading

More fun with numbers

The first self-analysis of this fledgling blog stirred up a bit of flack but at least it helped provide some topic guidance. Anyone who actually knows me is unsurprised to see economic and political subjects but honestly, I was trying to avoid them!

Anyway, here’s the current activity snapshot:

Tabula Crypticum graph 2

Tabula Crypticum graph 2

For reference (and reassurance) I kept the Ovi and “football fan IQ” spikes in the view.  Hopefully they don’t represent a permanent peak.  I don’t know what to make of the fact that the first blog analysis shows up so prominently afterward– I’ll wait for the results of this one and then assess it.

Skipping over the second sleep period, the next jump (jobless saga and home on the range) looks a lot like a dead cat bounce.  I’ll try not to take any stock in that; a recovery is a recovery!

Maybe the declining economy has impacted the perceived value of the blog, and I’m seeing an adusted appraisal.  Maybe there’s a blog currency I don’t know about, with its own supply/demand system and exchange rate.  If I add highly-viewed blogs to TC’s blogroll, does that increase the value of mine?  Or do increasing views dilute the worth of a blog?  Perhaps value is measured in terms of post/comment ratios.  Definitely calls for more study.

I was given a little grief today over my tiny readership but I don’t mind.  Quality over quantity I always say!  Thanks to all three of you for reading.  😉

Write once, risk many?

As an information management type who firmly believes in the management aspect, I have always been attracted to projects that emphasize consolidating and publishing data in the most efficient ways possible.  My mantra has been “write once, read many”; a simplistic way of putting the need to control a single master source that can be replicated as far and wide as needed.  The immediate benefit of course being that this gets everyone in an organization “on the same page”.

I have been involved in many business operations where individual persons and groups were allowed to control their own versions of master data and the results can be disastrous– large lots of the wrong product built and shipped is one frequent nightmare that comes to mind.

But simply coralling the data is not good enough, and may in fact cause a different sort of harm.  If false data winds up in the master repository then the system is now ensuring that more people suffer the same mistakes.  I have seen this in configuration management systems architectures that do not match the business process.  A single bad data element led to 80% of the defects I discovered in one situation.

Continue reading

Fun with numbers

This blog is still in its infancy but I thought it would be interesting to show you all some of the statistics so far, and highlight what’s been popular.  To that end, see the chart below:

Tabula Crypticum graph 1

Tabula Crypticum graph 1

The first spike on 18 December 2008 represents a little post I threw in partly as an update on my job seeking but mostly, I’ll admit, as pre-holiday filler.  I would imagine that many views were out of sheer curiosity over the topic because they were referrals from maemo.org.  This suspicion is borne out by the steep drop off and near death of the blog afterward.

We’ll call the period between 20 December 2008 and 06 January 2009 a holiday-induced coma.  I think I could have posted daily weather reports and attained the same levels of readership.  Maybe more.

Lo and behold, once the pain of New Year partying had worn off, readers swarmed back with a vengeance.  This time it was an article on Ovi’s prospects that brought them in.  Again, referrals from maemo.org were a significant factor.

But the real winner here was a tongue-in-cheek post pointing out what was presumably an error on some internet advertiser’s part that impugned the intelligence of Oklahoma Sooners fans.  Followers of the Texas Longhorns may dispute the “error” label.  Anyway, the driver in this case was a link I left at a sports discussion forum.  I may have found my target demographic!

So now I have feedback to guide me in future post topics: internet tablets, amalgamated web service sites, and insulting college football fans.  With that settled, I am looking forward to even higher spikes!  Hopefully the upcoming 2009 Superbowl will provide some material…