The bigger the IT plan, the more fragile it can seem when times are uncertain. So with domestic politics in the air, Europe on the edge and geopolitics raging, it’s a little comforting to be gathering evidence that the master data management projects we often saw derailed in 2008 are holding steady right now.

This doesn't lessen the future for newer topics grabbing headlines in big data analytics, cloud and enterprise mobility. Those are all good things, but ask a CIO where a lot of money and time is invested right at this moment and one of those places is MDM.

It wasn’t this way a few years ago when the first financial meltdown put capital expenditures on the skids, which makes the rebound doubly nice.

There was some hard evidence for the value of MDM in projections for this year from Gartner and others who saw a bullish year.

I'll admit my own evidence is mostly anecdotal, from the CIOs I am talking to for our 25 Top Information Manager release later this month, from the conferences I go to and from Aaron Zornes, who runs a slate of events globally and is chairing a couple of annual MDM & Data Governance events with us this month in San Francisco and Toronto. Another event in New York follows in Ocober.

What’s really rewarding at these events is that governance is a badge more proudly than fearfully worn in enterprises and that companies are following through on their bets. Even though participants run the gamut of experience, that means they either are seeing benefits or are buying into some urgency that justifies what is stil a difficult project.

If you have a presence on LinkedIn, you’ve seen the demand for MDM experience and discussions on where the tools and skills market is headed.  Zornes agrees.  “Just the number of phone calls and emails I get from recruiters looking for data governance experienced people is a trend that feels rewarding,” he says.

Having worked off and on with Aaron for five or six years now, I have my own view of MDM growth and it’s been instrumental in forming a view of data governance that stretches across most of the topics we cover in data and information management.

I used to tell people who asked that data governance was in part an indicator of market maturity because it is so closely tied to execution, but now I prefer to think of governance as an indicator of urgency, sincerity and intent, because if you are doing it, you are working very hard at it. Less than maturity, it is a sign of ongoing and often redoubled work to support the execution of a range of data projects.

That is substantiated by the fact that the number of people attending these events with the word governance in their job title, Aaron reminded me. “Five years ago how many people did we know that director of data governance or something like that as their title? It was miniscule and maybe 20 percent mention governance.”

Those are the new titles, and a lot of folks with the older sobriquets are plainly devoted to governance as a responsibility whatever the sigh outside their office says.  Again, this is a tough area to find hard data points, but like Zornes says, companies don’t create these job titles and fund them without some business strategy or problem in mind.

Just like I know you'll enjoy our events this month and later this year, you’ll see more evidence of this in the 25 Top Information Manager names coming out later this month. We can watch trends emerge and follow the exitement, but just like the subtitle in our logo says, governance is one of the first places we know to go right now to see people invested and information at work.

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