It’s day one of the SAS DataFlux IDEAS 2012 conference – a full day of training. At check-in, the first thing many repeat attendees noted was the size of the conference. The number of registrants is up over 15% from the 2011 event, and the Aria in Las Vegas is the perfect place for a bigger event. As in the past, DataFlux software training is always a big draw, and the 2012 edition was no different; few, if any, seats were available for the hands-on classes.
This year’s agenda also featured a workshop on data governance, taught by Jill Dyché and Tamara Dull, as well as an MDM technical concepts workshop, led by Evan Levy. These two business-focused courses were entertaining sessions that highlighted some key discussions in the data management community.
Jill’s class discussed the concept “big data governance,” which she wrote about earlier in the year. While many of the attendees were still in the educational or exploratory phases of big data programs, Jill and Tamara noted that the market is currently focused on “How do you consolidate and process all my ‘big data?’” In short order, the question will be "How do I start extracting value?" from the mountains of data.
For those organizations looking to apply a data governance fix for their big data ills, it's important to avoid a common data governance mistake: starting a program and even holding meetings before mapping out the long-term vision. It may sound simple, but the best advice for data governance is to work on the basics at the outset – what it means to your organization, how the culture will change and what people and processes need to exist to make data governance a reality.
In Evan’s MDM class, a diverse group got feedback on the technology fundamentals around MDM technologies and what organizations can expect from an MDM effort. Even though MDM has been a hot topic in the data management world for years, there is still some confusion over the meaning of the term. Evan pointed out the common features of MDM and how it can coexist with your existing IT infrastructure. Again, the focus here is on the basics and how to avoid long deployments or unnecessary delays.
Thinking back on the nine IDEAS conferences I’ve attended (missing only the first one), what strikes me the most is how familiar the conversations tend to be each year. A decade ago, companies were struggling to manage data in isolated CRM or ERP systems or within a data warehouse environment. Later, data governance and MDM brought data management to the enterprise level. Now, organizations are learning to apply data quality and data integration techniques to big data, high-velocity data streams, cloud-based applications and other next-generation use cases. The context of the conversations are different, but the fundamental aspects of data management are always at the core of IDEAS.
I've seen many things change about the IDEAS conference – the size of the event, the technology on display, and the people in the audience – but the need for better data is constant. After all, high-quality data, whether it's "big data" or not, can make all the difference. Stay tuned for more updates on the IDEAS conference this week.