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Full Speed Ahead, but Get Management Buy-In First!

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What with independent research groups predicting diametrically opposed directions of IT spending in financial services, it’s difficult to get a handle on how our industry’s recovery is really going.

We were piqued to see Celent and TowerGroup disagreeing on the direction of the marketplace – one said European IT spending in finance was heading down, the other global spending heading up. Maybe the two are consistent, but with the ongoing ructions in India, Asia’s contribution to the global number may not materialize as some may hope, leaving any global growth almost entirely in U.S. hands.

Hmm. So, for us at least, it’s back to basics in terms of where we’re headed. Are firms actually spending money to meet the reference data challenge?

What’s becoming clear is that the need for an enterprise approach data management is being recognized. CSFB’s ODIN project is just one example of a whole slew of similar initiatives, which we plan to document in coming issues. We believe that IT project managers will be undeterred by the recent decision to set the Basel II requirements back a year.

Although often cited as a key driver in the decision to implement the kind of data management shake-up under way at CSFB, Basel II’s delayed implementation was widely expected and has most likely been built into many people’s project planning. Even with the diminished immediacy of a major business driver, enterprise data projects will move forward. Certainly, that’s what we’re hearing from the slew of vendors hoping to take advantage of the opportunity. But other obstacles remain.

From our discussions with the user community – and from attendance at such excellent industry events as Osney Media’s recent Financial Data Management conference in London last month – a potential hazard is the proverbial ‘business buy-in.’ At the Osney event, several project leaders identified buy-in as a key hurdle to overcome. Because reference data touches so many applications and business groups within the enterprise, a broad population of users and administrators is affected by any attempt to change things.

CSFB’s Mike Gillott took the show on the road to get sign-off, visiting, presenting to and generally cajoling managers to counter any potential intransigence. Other project leaders have described similar techniques. Even when sign-off is won, other challenges lie in wait. One dilemma facing project managers is whether to entrust the enterprise project to the teams of data managers who had previously maintained the status quo.

These administrators – according to this line of thought – hadn’t the vision to support let alone pioneer radical enterprise data restructuring. Why should they be given responsibilities in exciting new projects?

The jury is out on this one. Whatever the case, our non-empirical, anecdotal evidence suggests that whatever the research groups are saying, projects are getting sign-off, and getting executed. For the platform vendors, opportunity beckons. It’s now up to them to put their money where their mouth is.

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