Change is like the common cold – there is a lot of it about.
The interesting question is not if we are in a period of change: everything is always changing, in the same way that everyone is always busy –the constancy of change is a particularly tired cliché of business life.
The better question is about speed and momentum: how quickly are things changing, and how can you take advantage of being a few microns ahead of the curve?
There is no benefit in change for change’s sake – it is about doing something different from the competition at the right time.
The necessarily short-lived illusion that you can read the tea leaves and somehow anticipate what is going to happen next has always been a very powerful driver for ideas and innovation. Drive for alpha, competitive differentiation, the next big thing: they all depend on a belief that you can have that great idea just a little earlier than the next guy or girl. Is change happening slowly or quickly? The dynamics of change is not an exact science, but a lot of the time the pace of change seems to be a variation on the logic of the tipping point: first slowly, then quickly. So yes, stop press, stifle yawn, the reference data landscape is changing. But where are we today: is it changing slowly or quickly? And what are the opportunities for those of us that want to help push down the accelerator on changing the way we treat our data?
Why is this change desirable and what is stopping it? There is a fundamental schizophrenia about our collective attitudes towards data. When asked, we will all profess that it is our single most important corporate asset (after our people, I hear a HR manager shout). Data is good, data is powerful, it is what the financial industry is all about: we manufacture, distribute, transform and monetise data. Data is what we do.
In the real world however it is that same data that does not live up to its potential: it is incomplete, fragmented, siloed. It is the root cause of many problems. Frankly, it could do a lot better. Industry survey after survey diagnoses the same issues and root causes, and it requires a leap of faith to challenge the accepted wisdom that poor and unconnected data is just a fact of business life, and will require a never-ending stream of tactical measures to mitigate the risks to your business. Set Your Data Free It will take a collective refusal to accept the status quo to make the case for change, and the work of the Enterprise Data Management Council is the most coherent expression of this manifesto. Simply put – the conviction that we can collectively move our industry to a different level of efficiency and profitability if the data that powers it is set free.
Freed from the limitations imposed by data suppliers, legacy applications, and outdated architectures, data can be combined to provide clean, connected, trusted information that takes away the need for expensive and time-consuming exception management and reconciliation, and drives better decisions. Big ambitions, but at its core a straightforward and personal call to arms: set your data free. It deserves a break.