Data integration and governance: Organize to keep from drowning in a sea of data

Content Marketing Manager, IBM Analytics Platform, IBM

If you find yourself staring at a desk that is less than optimally organized, a few tips based on data integration and governance can really help get rid of the clutter. And if you’re anything like me, around this time of year you suddenly look up and find that your desk is awash in a variety of papers. I’m never exactly sure where they’ve come from or how they accumulated so quickly, but they’re there nonetheless. I think I need a second round of spring-cleaning in autumn—perhaps fall organizing?

Of course, I don’t profess to be the most organized person in the world, anyway. And hearing about data integration and governance on a regular basis is probably good thing. That may sound like a strange statement, but it’s true. Good data integration and data governance are built on a foundation of good organization, and there are a number of organizing tips from this unexpected source.

Get rid of what isn’t needed

For data integration and governance, one of the best ways to de-clutter is to follow three steps: discover, classify and define. In order, this process involves identifying where the oldest and least-used data is, sorting it based on importance and defensibly disposing of data that isn’t still needed. Defensible disposal is particularly important. You can’t simply save all data, but getting rid of the wrong thing could lead to legal trouble. A trusted system needs to be in place to discern the correct things to save based on legal holds, regulations or other considerations.

Organizing a workspace is similar in that it often helps to have a clear structure for working efforts. Try the discover, classify and define approach by gathering the papers you haven’t touched in a while, deciding what is no longer relevant and disposing of the documents that you don’t have a legal or informational reason to keep. You’ll be seeing free space on your desk in no time once all of last month’s notes-to-self papers have been thrown away.

Coalesce what you can

Another important part of data integration and governance is master data management (MDM). In essence, the most relevant data is combined to provide a definitive view that helps guide the organization as it moves forward. This master data should be simultaneously attuned to current needs within an organization and be future ready with features such as prebuilt capabilities, customizable options and master data governance.

Of course, this approach can also be replicated when organizing a desk. Look at the papers that couldn’t be thrown away from the previous step. Do they have the same or similar information? If so, combining these papers into another, more streamlined document can help reduce clutter and provide a single view on an important topic. But, remember that the document should be future ready too. If you sense that other related information may soon begin cluttering your desk once more, leave a space on the new document for the necessary additions. In this way, you not only gain a one-time organizational boost, but you’ll be better prepared to stave off future clutter as well. with an expert

Working with someone considered to be an expert in the field is also a fairly common practice when looking for a data integration and governance solution. For example, a vendor may be considered an expert based on its position in analyst reports such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant or the Forrester Wave. Those rated as leaders across multiple data integration or governance reports can provide the upper hand when implementing solutions designed to optimally organize data.

Calling in an expert to help organize a desk is less common, but some cases may definitely call for outside assistance. If you’re having constant trouble with a cluttered workspace and your productivity is being hampered, it may be time to bring in a professional organizer. Just make sure to do the same type of diligent research and select someone with outstanding references and reviews. 

Obviously, putting these tips into practice is easier said than done. And, while cleaning a workspace might take a while or get frustrating, data integration and governance doesn’t have to be that frustrating. An agile approach to data integration and governance can be relatively simple when it includes self-service and IT-managed capabilities and is based on the ability to design solutions once and run them anywhere. If clearing a desk were that simple, you may be able to find what you're looking for in less than five minutes.

Further your exploration of data integration and governance solutions and practices. And be sure to register for IBM Insight 2015, 25–29 October 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.