I’m not gonna lie (especially not here on the internet)… sometimes work travel is awesome.  You get to see new cities, meet with great clients, learn new things, and collect a few chatchkas. As we continue through vacation season though I am reminded of how enjoyable travel can REALLY be. But more on my summer’s international escapades another time.

Not that long ago I had the pleasure of speaking at the Chief Data Officer Summit in San Francisco and I’ve recently been reflecting on that trip.  The CDO role is relatively new, poorly defined, but picking up speed.  The analysts figure about 20% of organizations have one already, and that will reach 40% by 2020.  The role can cover a number of different aspects with the majority focused on ‘reactive’ tasks – risk mitigation, cost reduction, etc. linked into the CIO, legislative, risk portfolios…and a smaller, but very vocal, minority focused on ‘proactive’ tasks like big data / analytics linked into the CFO, CMO, CEO areas.

At this particular conference the focus was very squarely on the latter – data analytics.  There was a lot of buzz about Hadoop, data lakes, visualizations, and NLP…which begs the question…what the heck was Adlib doing there?!

Well… other than me wanting to ride a cable car in San Fran, our Content Elevation Process ™ actually offers a great deal of value to the analytics challenge. With an estimated 80% of organizational information residing in unstructured content - and most of that content being ‘dark’ - entering an analytics program without a plan for accessing the data buried in unstructured content is a recipe for disaster. 

This might explain why, according to Forrester, enterprise satisfaction with analytics projects has gone DOWN from 53% to 42%. Now my presentation went well and the audience seemed to appreciate this novel perspective.  But I really hit home on the 2nd day of the conference when a customer described Adlib’s solution in a way that I could really sink my teeth into.

Like me, she was a bit of a foodie, and was enjoying the joys of corporate travel.  So she spoke about the quality of a meal needing lots of high quality ingredients… and that Adlib provided those ingredients!   How brilliantly simple (I tried to hire her to help us with marketing, but she was very happy in her current role). 

I really saw the light on this one when I hit the hotel bar that night (I told you corporate travel can be fun sometimes).  The Fairmont (like Adlib, another global company, born in Canada) has a special cocktail program where they’re perfecting the classics.

Anyone can make a Gin & Tonic (especially now that it’s summer time… I think EVERYONE should be making G&Ts… but that only gets you so far… that only hits the ‘42% satisfaction level’.  To perfect it you need to mix up, with, for example a ‘right word’. So three key rules to live by when it comes to the perfect cocktail or useable assets:

  • Higher quality ingredients:  (Bombay Sapphire… not Beefeater) is just like using HD Assets and unreadable, poorly scanned, Tiff images.  
  • Complete ingredients:  adding Lillet Blanc, and St. Germain… unlike my mixes which apparently have less than 50% of the flavors… will result in a perfected cocktail using all of the necessary components.  This is just like trying to run a governance program or an analytics effort without leveraging the unstructured content.
  • No extra ingredients (no matter how tempting):  Unlike my mixes… where I throw in a bucket of ice, a cucumber spear, a dash of random (probably expired) bitters, and a drop of vodka just to get rid of the old bottle… the perfected cocktail has only what is absolutely needed.  They’ve streamlined the creation so only the right pieces are included.  This is akin to the ROT (Redundant, Obsolete, Trivial) content that organizations still seem to subject their governance / analytics programs to.  An estimated 69% of content is of absolutely no value so why add that into your (data) mix.

Now, while the analogy may be a bit of a stretch, I think you get my point.  There are clearly some gaps in both mixology and information management.  Gaps that can be addressed by focusing not on the final product, or the slick slide show or even the budget, team, or benefits, but by focusing on the inputs.  IT has always been a garbage-in-garbage-out industry, so let’s make sure we stop pumping garbage into our governance or analytics programs.  It can make a world of difference and help not only to improve big analytics outcomes , but also allow CDOs to address the lower hanging fruit, solving smaller, but more concrete, business problems (like well log identification, ISDA contract assessment, automated PII redaction, etc.) today.  Do this… and we’ll move from the 42% satisfaction rate… not just back to 52%... but hopefully to 90% satisfaction which is where we should be at.  And that’s something we can all drink to!

PS – if Adlib’s Controller is reading this blog, please note, I only had these overpriced alcoholic beverages to entertain the prospects and I swear I kept my own consumption to a minimum.  Additionally, I drank free water the rest of the trip.

PPS – for those who travel for work… you’ll also know the truth.  Travelling is not that much fun and I endured a painful redeye on the way home, and had no hot water in the hotel that morning… but you have to count the few moments of joy when you find them… so bottom’s up ☺

Progressive Classification can help to achieve the perfect mix of data and get to the information that matters.