Speaker Spotlight Column: An Interview with David Hay

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edw2013-speaker-spotlightby Charles Roe

In an effort to leverage the knowledge of several of the top minds in the Data Management industry, DATAVERSITY™ has been conducting a series of interviews on some of the most relevant topics in the field today. Recently, we interviewed David Hay, the President of Essential Strategies, Inc.

David will be giving a presentation at the Enterprise Data World 2013 Conference in San Diego, CA from April 28-May 2, 2013. The presentation is titled “UML and Data Modeling: A Reconciliation.”

The Speaker Spotlight Column (and its parallel venture the Sponsor Spotlight Column) is an ongoing project that focuses on highlighting several of the central issues represented at the many Data Management conferences produced by DATAVERSITY.

The primary emphasis of the interview was to question David Hay on his work and history within the industry, with particular importance on his presentation at the upcoming conference:

DATAVERSITY (DV): Please tell us a little about yourself and your history in the industry e.g role at company (as opposed to job title), past experience and how you got started in the data profession)?

David Hay (DH): I started in the IT industry back in ancient times, when it was called “Data Processing”.  I build my first “data warehouse” in 1971, introducing my business clients to the concepts of “dimensions” and “drill-down”.  I didn’t really think about it, but those terms seemed to describe what I was trying to do for them.  (OK, the “user interface” was a 20 character-per-second teletype, and I programmed it in Basic, but the underlying issues haven’t really changed in 40 years.)  As I designed my first “databases”, I realize that certain designs were more “reasonable” than others, but it took me a while to articulate just why.

In 2013, my company, Essential Strategies, Inc. will be 20 years old.  That has been my vehicle for helping companies understand the underlying simplicity in their complex organizations, using the vehicle of conceptual data models.  I got started in modeling 27 years ago when I went to work for Oracle and was one of the pioneers in their CASE offerings.

DV: What is the focus of the work do you currently do within your organization?

DH: I am the President, Marketing Director, Controller, and 100% of the labor force.

DV: What is the biggest change going on in your particular area of the industry at this time?

DH: For a company to hire me, it should be in a position to understand what benefit they will get from my models.  My objective is to identify the underlying simplicity in an organization’s data structures, so that the systems built to support them will be simpler, and from that, more robust and easier to maintain.  For the management of a company to recognize that, they must have made the intellectual jump to realize that they must manage data as an asset and be willing to invest as much in that as they do in managing human resources, money, or capital equipment.  Once they have grasped that, it’s an easy step to say I can help them really understand the nature of that asset.  I wish I could say that lots of companies have come to that realization, but unfortunately, it doesn’t feel that way.  More than in the past? Hard to say.  I hope so.

DV: How does such a change affect your job?

DH: To the extent that more people recognize this, I get more work.

DV: What are you going to discuss during your session at Enterprise Data World and what will the audience gain from attending your talk? (Please be specific about one or two issues you’ll be addressing, and the benefits the audience will obtain).

DH: The information industry has many factions, and disagreements among them greatly inhibit progress overall.  In one case, the world of data modeling is concerned with describing the underlying nature of a business, so that problems can be addressed by new systems.  The world of object-oriented design is concerned with the technology of building systems.  That is the world that came up with the Uniform Modeling Language (UML). Because of its history, data modelers and database designers have uniformly shunned it.

I, on the other hand, have come up with a tinkered version of UML that is suitable for creating conceptual (both semantic and architectural) data models.  That is what I am presenting to EDW.

DV: How has your job, and/or the work you’re doing at your organization, changed in the past 12 months?  How do you expect it to change in the next 1-2 years?

DH: Not significantly.  I don’t expect it to change significantly.  It is my job to describe the underlying structure of an organization’s data.  This seems to be recognized as a useful thing for me to do.  So I will continue.

DV: More broadly speaking, what do you believe is the most significant change happening in Enterprise Data at this time?

DH: In response to my earlier statement, I do believe that some companies are finally coming to recognize that their data represent a significant asset that it is important to manage.  I believe that the companies that do will ultimately be more successful.

DV: How is Big Data going to affect your job (in your organization) in future?

DH: My job.  Probably not much.  I will be doing some research in the area for my own purposes.

DV: What is something noteworthy about yourself that you would like to tell the conference attendees and our readers that they may not know?

DH: (Actually, many of the readers probably already do know this.)  I like to fold origami creatures.  I volunteer each Saturday at the Texas Children’s Hospital to give models away, and, where the child is willing and able, to teach how to fold.

If you are interested in attending David’s session at EDW2013, please see the conference schedule at:

The workshop is on Tuesday, April 30, at 1:30pm.

About Enterprise Data World:

Enterprise Data World is the business world’s most comprehensive educational event about data and information management. Over five days, EDW presents a diverse schedule of programming that addresses every level of proficiency, including keynotes, workshops, tutorials, case studies, and discussions.

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