Thursday, October 31, 2013

How wet is your data?

People do not like being called wetware – but we are. Physical computers, microchips, disk drives, plugs and cables are what we normally call Hardware. Software on the other hand refers to a type of architecture that includes “softer” components, which are in a more transient state. This is very true for things like computer programs. Somewhere along the way however, I picked up an extension for these two definitions which goes and defines humans as Wetware, suggesting that changes in people’s behavior is more frequent and less predictable than that of software.
The question I pose is then really about how much of your data is affected, or handled, by humans rather than computers or automated processes. This question is important because it has a direct impact on the amount of time and effort you need to spend on data governance. Why? Because governance is something you use to control human behavior.

One of my favorite speakers on Data Management, Dr. Peter Aikens talks about leveraging data. In other words, how to use data effectively to maximize its value for the organization you support. I like to extend this thought further by noting that in order to leverage data effectively, you need to affect how it is being used, and for that you need to control the leavers of your data.
Technology and process can be loosely regarded as hardware and software, and for that we have ample tools to affect change. Managing people, however, is something we have been doing since the dawn of mankind. So why is it so difficult to control data and its quality? Simply put – lack of management. Some say it’s the lack of technology and process management and others will advocate is the lack of people management. Alas – it is all three.
Since this is a conversation about wet data though, I want to conclude this post with the “people management” side of things. I have discussed perceptions and different priorities in the past, but when you think about it, these are motivated by deeper constructs such as emotions and desires.
Now if you want to influence those, you should consider training in softer skills like psychology and change management.

No comments:

Post a Comment