Portals eNewsletters Web Seminars dataWarehouse.com DM Review Magazine
DM Review | Covering Business Intelligence, Integration & Analytics
   Covering Business Intelligence, Integration & Analytics Advanced Search

View all Portals

Scheduled Events

White Paper Library
Research Papers



DM Review Home
Current Magazine Issue
Magazine Archives
Online Columnists
Ask the Experts
Industry News
Search DM Review

Buyer's Guide
Industry Events Calendar
Monthly Product Guides
Software Demo Lab
Vendor Listings

About Us
Press Releases
Advertising/Media Kit
Magazine Subscriptions
Editorial Calendar
Contact Us
Customer Service

Data Management Tipping Point:
Data Management Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen

  Column published in DM Review Magazine
February 2006 Issue
  By Peter Aiken

Paul Revere was a connector. According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Revere knew exactly whose door to knock on in each town that he stopped in that historic night. As a connector, he knew lots of people, and he knew lots of the "right" kinds of people, which ensured that his message got out. Contrast his success with that of William Dawes, who made a similar journey south from Boston with the same news that fateful evening - of whom most of us have never heard. Persuading a connector to pass along your message can be one of the most effective communication means.

Connectors are just one of the forces that data managers need to change things. Focus on the word change. We have been conducting research into how well data management is performed and can report some mixed results. In general, we are better at what we do (manage data) than the software development community. In spite of this apparent success, the entire IT industry suffers from a 70 percent project failure rate, and few exhibit the maturity of practice required to decrease this appalling rate.

I contend that our most pressing problem in data management is how to get our organizations to change. Most data management groups are faced with the huge challenge of improving existing (poor) development (and redevelopment) habits and practices. I've met dozens of data managers who have been concerned that IT groups couldn't give them enough time to do a good job developing flexible and adaptable data structures that support the implementation of organizational strategies. These are only symptoms of far more pervasive problems that exist within IT development practices.

Quality data management and engineering practices cannot thrive within a larger context of poor IT management. We can only do our job well if we are permitted to by the context in which we operate. While we are data managers, we must recognize that our influence must extend far beyond what we have traditionally considered data management if we are going to help our organizations improve existing practices and achieve significant results. Success is dependent on the involvement of people with particular social skills. We'll do it with the help of connectors, mavens and salesmen.

Mavens are information gatherers and are a recognized class of individuals worthy of study in their own right (especially by economists). In addition to collecting information, mavens also distribute information at a rate greater than the typical individual. According to researchers, approximately one-half of all Americans know a true maven. Mavens are important because they know things that the rest of us do not know, and they want to distribute this information to others out of a sense of altruism or societal benefit. As Gladwell says, "The fact that mavens want to help, for no other reasons than because they like to help, turns out to be an awfully effective way of getting someone's attention."

The final category is the salesmen, who are crucial to persuading message receivers who are unconvinced of what they are hearing. Salesmen, it turns out, deliver far more than just the message. They persuade others of the message's truth using subtle, hidden and unspoken communication techniques that are demonstrably more effective. A large component of this is referred to as emotional contagion.

At the upcoming DAMA/Metadata conference April 23-27 in Denver, I challenge you to try to categorize some of the people you will meet as salesmen, mavens and connectors. Consider how the various individuals you encounter help bring about the change required to implement better data management at the organizational level, at the national level and at the international level. In my next column, I'll discuss how these three types of people come together and permit the law of the few to operate. 


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Data Management.

Peter Aiken is with Virginia Commonwealth University's IS Department and is the founding director of Data Blueprint(.com) as well as VP Communications for DAMA International. A practicing data manager with 25+ years of experience, he has previously held positions with the US DoD and consulted with organizations in 18 countries. His sixth book is XML for Data Management. Aiken may be reached at peter@datablueprint.com or http://peteraiken.net.

Solutions Marketplace
Provided by IndustryBrains

Design Databases with ER/Studio: Free Trial
ER/Studio delivers next-generation data modeling. Multiple, distinct physical models based on a single logical model give you the tools you need to manage complex database environments and critical metadata in an intuitive user interface.

Rackspace-Managed Servers, Fanatical Support?
Full-Scale Microsoft & Linux Solutions & 0% Network Downtime! Click here now!

Speed Databases 2500% - World's Fastest Storage
Faster databases support more concurrent users and handle more simultaneous transactions. Register for FREE whitepaper, Increase Application Performance With Solid State Disk. Texas Memory Systems - makers of the World's Fastest Storage

DeZign for Databases - Database Design Made Easy
Create, design & reverse engineer databases with DeZign for Databases, a database design tool for developers and DBA's with support for Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL, MS Access, DB2, PostgreSQL, InterBase, Firebird, NexusDB, dBase and Pervasive.

Data Mining: Levels I, II & III
Learn how experts build and deploy predictive models by attending The Modeling Agency's vendor-neutral courses. Leverage valuable information hidden within your data through predictive analytics. Click through to view upcoming events.

Click here to advertise in this space

View Full Issue View Full Magazine Issue
E-mail This Column E-Mail This Column
Printer Friendly Version Printer-Friendly Version
Related Content Related Content
Request Reprints Request Reprints
Site Map Terms of Use Privacy Policy
SourceMedia (c) 2006 DM Review and SourceMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
SourceMedia is an Investcorp company.
Use, duplication, or sale of this service, or data contained herein, is strictly prohibited.