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Notes from Informatica Data Summit 2016

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I recently attended the Informatica Data Summit 2016 in the City.

There were discussions about market trends in the world of data and speakers from various industries promoting the importance of data from their own experience. I thought I’d share some highlights from the Summit.

Informatica is an industry leading software organisation well known for data related software products with a portfolio focused on data integration. They are market leaders with a product portfolio primarily focused on Extract Transform Load (ETL), information lifecycle management, B2B data exchange, cloud data integration, data quality and master data management (MDM).

The Summit started with a keynote from the Vice President of Informatica, Amit Walia. He told an interesting story about Netflix’s use of data which led to them filming a US version of House of Cards. With no experience of media productions they had to rely just on data mining and business intelligence (BI) products to establish that political crime thrillers are the most popular genres among 30 to 50 year olds. The result was they picked the script of House of Cards for production and the rest is history.

Amit also mentioned how industry shift in the world of data can be summarised:

  • pre 2000 was Data 1.0 – data for specific application
  • pre 2015 was Data 2.0 – enterprise wide use of data
  • post 2015 is Data 3.0 – data powered business transformation

We’re in the age of Data 3.0 due to:

  • explosion of data
  • new data type (mobile, social, Internet of Things)
  • data in cloud
  • business users of data

Data is important in an organisation and many organisations still do not realise the true potential of their data. This can lead to skewed representation of customer data, missed opportunities, manual disjointed time and effort to keep data in sync, lack of informed management decisions (lack of a mature BI practice in the organisation) and vulnerability to industry shifts and changes.

This was summarised by the Chief Data Officer of GE (Finance) in a line:

If your data is a project then there is a problem!

This highlights the need for data to be considered for every project or the organisation would need to foot the bill in the form of a massive data project in the near future. He also highlighted the increased importance of metadata in today’s world.

Cloud and Hybrid Integration

This was more of a sales pitch for Informatica to showcase their cloud integration capabilities. Nonetheless, it was evident and recommended that moving to the cloud is always a great opportunity to cleanse your data (technically referred to as “getting your house in order”).

Data sync/replication and data migration are the common capabilities delivered by the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) products. It was also good to see that Informatica supports native iPaaS solutions for 9 AWS and 10+ Azure services respectively.

B2C Industries in Digital Age

There were two presentations – one each by the AA and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to share their experiences with data. According to both, their projects were a success and were delivering great value to their organisations.

The AA’s transformation programme was aimed at moving away from application silos which affected customer experiences when dealing with different business functions within the same organisation. For example, an AA customer who called the roadside assistance business would have to repeat the information to their insurance business (if they are a customer for both products). This created a frustrating customer experience!

The AA embarked on this massive transformation programme and delivered it in a year. A very important thing to learn from their experience is how they started their venture. I feel they did it right with these two things – they set out their transformation principles and reference architecture at the outset. They felt these two steps helped them to stay focussed on what is being delivered and deliver it on time (well, they said the go-live was delayed by 2 hours). In my opinion, the combination of both would have given them a solid governance structure.

The AA programme was based on their transformation principles:

  • customer centric
  • omni-channels
  • consistent
  • one-and-done

The data technologies used were ETL, Real-time Integration and MDM (Informatica) products to address batch, real-time and central data source challenges respectively.

The J&J example is less relevant to parliament as their programme aimed to gather assembly line statistics and metrics to be more responsive to breakdowns and real-time business intelligence for management decisions. J&J’s programme was delivered by ‘Central Application Services’. It is a Centre of Excellence (CoB) group responsible for application delivery for all J&J business verticals (consumer healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals). The thing to note is the use of common governance and architecture within the group to deliver quality products. They started off with a reference architecture like the AA as well.

A common theme (problems solved) that was evident from the two presentations that I would like to highlight:

  • existing data silos
  • poor data quality (of customers)
  • single source of truth (for all data)
  • manual tasks and scheduled (point 2 point) data syncing activities

I will leave you with a very useful and powerful picture from one of the presentations in the Data Summit – very relevant to the projects we work on in parliament.

Informatica data summit lessons learned slide

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