Information Landscape 2.0

Welcome to Patterns in the Information Landscape!

I’m Harald Smith, long-time practitioner and product strategist across the information integration, quality, and governance domains, and currently Director, Product Management at Trillium Software.   Thoughts and opinions here are my own.


Blog 2.0

While not new to blogging, this is a blog relaunch, a 2.0 version of my earlier blog, Journeys in the Information Landscape, which went dormant amidst a job change and other life events.  It is also a rename of the blog: its both a call out to my earlier book Patterns of Information Management, co-authored with Mandy Chessell and published by Pearson/IBM Press and its associated community Patterns of Information Management an IBM developerWorks community (which focused on topics from our book) and a focus on the patterns that feature in, drive, and emerge when working with information management and governance.

My themes remain largely the same:

  • How do we obtain and effectively use data and information for business decisions and processes?
  • How do we ensure such information fits its purpose by providing the right data with the right quality at the right time?  (Assuming we can even identify what that means!)
  • How do we govern and protect that data and comply with policies while making such information available to the consumers who need it?
  • How do we establish effective use and reuse of the data, processes, and tools involved with these whether through best practices, methods, and approaches; managing the design and delivery of data products for specific needs; or just responding to questions and issues?
  • And coupled with the above, are there insights and patterns whether drawn from math and science, history and art, nature or games, or other domains that may help answer those questions?


Into the New Year: thinking about data-driven trends for 2016

A new blog, a new year, what’s better than to consider some predictions for the information landscape for 2016!  One set of predictions that recently caught my eye was from the IBM THINK Leaders: Six data-driven leadership trends for 2016.  Their first prediction was on the continued advancement of data-powered personalization.

Data-powered personalization.  “Businesses will leverage user data at key touchpoints to guide product development and personalize customer journeys.”

There’s a difficult dichotomy with this.  If you do it right, the consumer is happy.  If you do it wrong, the consumer is left annoyed, frustrated, irritated, or outright upset.  Within the last month, a friend posted a picture of a rabbit on Facebook.  It was a classic Monty Python moment, looking much like the Killer Rabbit, and I responded accordingly.  It was not long before Facebook gave me an ad for a Monty Python t-shirt.  Talk about data-powered personalization!

  • Yes, it was data-driven – I did reference Monty Python.
  • Yes, it was directed to me, so certainly personalized.
  • Yes, it was driven by a business seeking to increase its sales and revenue by taking advantage of Facebook’s data.
  • Was it relevant?  No.  I don’t shop via Facebook.
  • Was it annoying?  Yes.  Although I’m well aware that Facebook seeks ways to make money, I do not enjoy the constant bombardment with ads there or elsewhere across the internet.
  • Was it creepy?  Yes, it got close to the creepiness factor: that sense of being watched in everything you do.
  • Will I stop using Facebook?  Not yet, but as I’ve already experienced with radio and TV where the saturation of ads is now extreme,  there is a tipping point at which I discontinue use of a given media or source.

It’s a challenge to find the right balance.  As a product manager, I face this challenge with each decision about the user experience or a given user interface:  what’s useful and important to the user, what makes a user happy with the interface and the results, what frustrates the user and how do I resolve those pain points?

We face similar issues as we work with data integration and preparation tools to build out and provide data sets for business processes and analytics.  Whether for a targeted marketing campaign or a next best action at a call center, we need to think carefully about the data at hand.  Where did it come from?  Did the provider of the data really understand they were ‘authorizing’ its use?  What happens when that data is joined to other data?  How would you respond if it was your personal data?

My former colleague and co-author Mandy Chessell wrote a concise and useful whitepaper on this topic of Ethics, Big Data, and analytics which can be found here: Ethics for big data and analytics.  It’s an important topic that overlays everything we do and consider when working towards data-powered personalization.


In subsequent posts, I’ll consider some of the other data-driven trends for 2016.  If there are specific topics of interest to you regarding information management and governance, please let me know and I will see if I can address them.

So, a new year, a new blog home, a relaunched blog, and familiar topics in the information landscape.  At least that is the premise!   And as always, the postings on this site are my own.


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