I can’t decide whether I spend more time these days thinking about a), how rapidly the world is changing or b), how quickly time is passing. That makes it more and less relevant for me to let you know that at the end of this month I am stepping down from the editor’s post I’ve held at Information Management and its predecessor DM Review for more than eight years.

I say this with gratitude for the opportunity and with great regard for the people leading the publication forward, in particular our editor-in-chief Julie Langenkamp-Muenkel and our publisher Tony Carrini. Their outreach and informed oversight have guided our mission since the day we first put our heads together. They are bringing new ideas, new voices and new value to the community, working with editors who believe in putting the audience first. 

The enterprise data community has a history of knowledge-sharing and a cast of brainy characters to account for our existence. I’ve been lucky to get an education firsthand from hundreds of very smart business and IT executives who’ve freely and surprisingly lent bits of time-earned wisdom. I’ve benefited again and again from the patient explanations of career analysts and consultants with boots on the ground. Many are the same people whose words fill the pages of this journal – journal being the operative word – and energize the community.

It’s not easy to disengage from such an investment but the drama is also my great fortune to have found a time to step back, recalibrate and explore new directions - before another bunch of years have suddenly gone by. I’ll help out on a project or two and then I’ll take a good look around. Everyone should get a reboot if and when they need it.

I searched to see how other editors have signed off and found there’s usually some thoughtful reflection or look ahead (and always a high-minded quote from a dead philosopher). So, here’s to tradition and letting the kids have the sandbox.

Most of 200 years ago, Kierkegaard said, “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Whether he was feeling existential or just ironic, it’s a small leap all these years later to our compulsion that managing data is not enough; it must lead toward some greater meaning. We have swapped omens and almanacs for Ph.D.s, algorithms and crowd wisdom. We have focused attention and cultivated respectable roles for this purpose. We more often use data to support or refute decisions – and even predict what’s not anticipated. A lot of excitement and intellect carries this work forward.

With headlines and expectations for the Information Age nearing a crescendo (Ray Kurzweil thinks we’ll all be immortal within 20 years) you could also argue that we’re still mostly just forecasting. The loftier new descriptions of enterprise data management as a rigor of science look pretty flimsy next to any ruthlessly repeatable law of physics or chemistry.

You’d never hedge against gravity or a hydrogen bond. As my data expert friend Suzanne Yoakum-Stover has said, our work doesn’t even come with fat books of theory like economics has.

All that doesn’t disqualify but sets a different standard for information management and its evolving context. We struggle with externalities and  compensate for attitudes and behaviors with observation, deduction, art and collaboration. With every new technology that increases our ability to ingest and process information, it’s always people who create, complicate and course correct the journey.

You are those people bringing brains, bravado, humility and an occasional dose of humor to the discussion and my last greatest thanks go to you. I’m especially proud of the organizations we successfully recruited over the years to add blogs and features to the knowledge base – people who would never share their names and brands if they weren’t confident in our oversight.

With every comment, question, argument, suggestion, idea, correction, fan and flame, you’ve kept the journey alive, fun and enticing, the proof point of our efforts and the inspiration to keep learning.

It’s going to keep everyone busy for a long time. See you at spring training.

Jim Ericson

Editorial Director