Reporting from Toronto – A Synopsis of the EIM 2008 Conference

By Anne Smith

In the past few years, a term has arisen that many in the information services industry have started to embrace to describe the various aspects of information management.  In the past, this area was called “Data Management” or “Data Administration”, but those words only scratched the surface of the extent of concepts and activities that are required for full integration of data and content across the enterprise.  The new term is “Enterprise Information Management” and EIM is beginning to serve as the fulcrum around which organizations can unite in their desire to manage information resources holistically for business and technology.

Some analysts view EIM as a data-centric part of the overall information management strategy – the next generation of data administration, while others see it as an integration layer in support of business processes. Gartner, Inc. believes that EIM is the logical layer of an IT architecture, while Forrester explains EIM as integrating structured and unstructured data and content.  Since there are as many definitions of Enterprise Information Management as there are organizations examining it, an EIM conference was definitely in order.

The 2008 DAMA EIM Conference’s theme was “information management and integration on an enterprise scale which is now technologically feasible and cost effective, combined with mature business processes and data management activities.”  Those who attended this conference in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, can attest to the delivery of this theme, in all its varied aspects.

With over 30 presentations, most aspects of EIM were addressed to some extent.  Topics included: business motivation and benefits for EIM, EIM frameworks and definitions, enterprise integration, corporate business and EIM strategy alignment, technologies and their impact.   Given the international nature of business and information in the 21st century, special attention was devoted to supporting the information-driven organization and global enterprise; focusing on challenges of managing information across borders.

The opening panel was hosted by John Ladley, and he adeptly arranged the speakers and topics to start the discussion on the disparate views of Enterprise Information Management.  Each of the panelists offered their approach to EIM, with the overall common theme of integration for EIM’s aspects.  One approach that seemed to resonate with the attendees identified the “pillars of EIM” since this view includes meta data management and data security as the foundation and data architecture and governance as capstones for a variety of data management functions.  Other panelists identified one or more of those “pillars” as the main focus area for their EIM approach – showing that the field has the challenge of differing views to reconcile.  Panelists then addressed the “project or program” concept, and most panelists have adopted the program view, since EIM consists of many projects.  One panelist added the concept of a “practice” since this term includes the fact that EIM may require the development of several programs each consisting of several projects.  All panelists stressed the fact that this initiative requires “a leap of faith” and the convergence of several perspectives to create the necessary holistic view of data and business processes that are at the heart of EIM.  This convergence can be accomplished only with appropriate cultural change, a statement the moderator made to the accompaniment of over 100 heads nodding in agreement.

Many participants expressed their views of Enterprise Information Management and started numerous informal discussions on the topic.  Mark O’Gorman, president of the DAMA chapter in Toronto (IRMAC) offered this thought “EIM is one of the mechanisms that enable organizational change to improve organizational agility and responsiveness to a fluid environment.  The “why” of EIM can be expressed to be its role in enabling the improvement of an organization’s flexibility.”

Some of the most intriguing presentations included an overview of a funding model for data warehousing that could be applied to any sized project; an incremental approach to EIM implementation; and a discussion on globalization and localization in enterprise data.  Several presenters introduced attendees to technologies that could be used to enable or improve EIM, such as corporate data mashups, semantic media wikis, and SOA.  There were presentations that addressed each of the components of EIM (meta data, data warehousing, master data, data architecture), presentations on various frameworks that could be useful in the development of an EIM program, and case studies from organizations displaying their success at implementing an EIM initiative.  In other words, there was something for anyone interested in Enterprise Information Management!

One way for individuals and organizations to avoid the tunnel vision that can hinder advancement is to attend conferences and participate in professional development organizations.  For education and experience in Enterprise Information Management, becoming a member of DAMA International (http://www.dama.org) and the Enterprise Information Management Institute (http://EIMinstitute.org) are essential steps.

About the Author

Anne Marie Smith is a leading consultant in Information Management and is a frequent contributor to various IS publications. Anne Marie has over 20 years experience in information management for several corporate entities and has successfully led the development of data resource management departments within corporations and consulting organizations. Anne Marie is active in the local chapter of DAMA and serves on the board of directors of DAMA International, and is an advisor to the DM Forum. She has been an instructor of Management Information Systems (MIS) with Philadelphia, PA area colleges and universities. Anne Marie has taught topics such as: data stewardship and governance, data warehousing, business requirements gathering and analysis, metadata management and metadata strategy, information systems and data warehouse project management. Anne Marie’s areas of consulting expertise include metadata management including data stewardship and governance, information systems planning, systems analysis and design, project management, data warehouse systems assessment and development, information systems process improvement and information resource management/data resource management. Anne Marie holds the degrees Bachelor of Arts and a Master's of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from La Salle University; she has earned a PhD in MIS at Northcentral University. She is a certified logical data and process modeler and holds project management certification. Anne Marie can be reached at amsmith@ewsolutions.com

 
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