Anti-Predictions for 2011

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It’s time for my annual predictions list for 2011 – which esteemed TDWI members can find in this month’s edition of Flashpoint, coming to your in-box next week. Meantime, I thought I’d use my inaugural 2011 blog post to predict what won’t be happening in 2011, or for that matter anytime soon.

These anti-predictions might a bit cynical. But corporate cultures that are fundamentally change-averse to begin with are unlikely to embrace fresh ways of thinking or to new delivery processes without a fight. Maybe the act of calling them out might serve to raise the collective consciousness. Read them and decide for yourself:

  1. Developers won’t track their time in any meaningful way. This is either because developers aren’t motivated enough (read: rewarded or penalized) to report how they spend their time, or because companies aren’t putting enough rigor around time tracking. Either way, data gathering, integration, and provisioning will continue to be replicated across development projects, and the resulting over-investment will continue to be drastically underestimated.
  2. Even if they are presented with proof of value, management will be reluctant to invest in data governance. Why? Because managers aren’t rewarded on economies-of-scale, they’re rewarded on revenue realization. So all the duplicate work, re-work, and skunkworks efforts don’t count. What counts is how data governance will help generate revenue, which is a much more difficult pitch, and they won’t invest in that either. (Ditto for data quality and MDM.)
  3. The business side won’t be interested in helping to define new rules of engagement with IT. They’ll simply wait for IT to tell them how to engage. And then they’ll refuse to play.
  4. Executives won’t approve new master data management or business intelligence funding without an ROI analysis. Ironically, estimating return on investment often requires research, if not downright histopathology, and it’s usually inversely proportional to a company’s existing measurement practices (see Number 1, above).
  5. No one will be willing to shine a bright light on the fact that the data on their enterprise data warehouse isn’t integrated. Just because data is co-located on a single platform doesn’t mean that data is integrated. This is the dirty little secret of enterprise data warehouses that no one wants you to know. And no one will talk about it in 2011, either.
  6. People won’t be embarrassed to bolt the preface “agile” onto projects in order to avoid creating or explaining a deliberate, business-centric delivery process.
  7. Companies that don’t characteristically invest in IT infrastructure won’t change anytime soon. So the silo-ed projects will beget more silo-ed data, and more back-end, manual workarounds. In the meantime, opportunities to manage reference data, formalize job roles, adopt new tools, and enrich customer data –not to put too fine a point on it, but enriching customer relationships in the process – will go unrealized.

In short, the “culture of no” will continue as the path of least resistance. After all, there’s always a good reason for not doing something. Perhaps your company rewards people for maintaining the status quo. Perhaps you work in a culture that prides itself on the Platonic dialectic of philosophical questioning, which is in reality so much passive-aggressive excuse-making for not taking ownership or driving progress. Perhaps there’s no celebrating the risk-taker.

Sure, there’s a certain cynicism to this list. But someone once said that a cynic is a frustrated optimist. So perhaps there’s hope?

In times of dynamic external changes—stock market fluctuations, the economy in swirl, crazy weather patterns, Taylor Swift’s love life – driving internal change can be both difficult and risky. Executives have ADD. Nothing sticks. Lack of funding is a safe excuse. If anything, I’m calling out these anti-predictions as a bit of a dare. So c’mon, prove me wrong!

(Why did it just get so quiet?)

I don’t know about you, but in 2011 I’ll consider saying “yes” to offers where I may have previously said “no.” I hope you’ll consider doing the same thing, and that maybe even your leadership will, too. Until then, Happy 2011!

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