Speaker Spotlight Column: John Ladley on Data Governance

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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 John Ladley, the President of IMCue Solutions.

John will be giving a workshop at the Enterprise Data World 2013 Conference in San Diego, CA from April 28-May 2, 2013. The workshop is titled “Compliance-Driven Information Management and Governance.”

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 John Ladley 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)?

John Ladley (JL): I currently lead a small consultancy specializing in all aspects of Enterprise Information Management (EIM).  I entered the data profession while at a midsize defense contractor, where we did embryonic work in sophisticated data management and analytics.  I moved from the defense firm to a consulting company, and was assigned to projects where information usage played a vital role. I was accused by a client of developing a data warehouse without permission! We did but no one called it a data warehouse. I started in EIM as a full time job while at a large health care organization, where we delivered one of the first large scale data warehouses. I became more influential while working at Meta Group as a research analyst, and left Meta to “do my own thing.”

DV: What’s the focus of the work do you currently do within your organization

JL: Currently most of our work is focused on Data Governance (DG), MDM and information architecture. However we continue to do BI and DW work as well.

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

JL: The emphasis on data governance, which is stemming from regulatory pressures, poor data quality, and finally management disenchantment with IT.

DV: How does such a change affect your job?

JL: Keeps us busy! We are constantly challenged to adapt our basic skills to various business models and cultures. Since DG is strongly tied to culture, we find we have to adapt to every client differently.  Business alignment is probably our most significant work product, yet is often roundly criticized by factions within our clients. We pioneered the emphasis on culture (been doing it for 15 years) and also need to constantly get creative as to how we present the culture management activities.

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).

JL: This session will cover the immediate and necessary actions regulated companies need to engage in in terms of data governance. It will cover two case studies, health care and energy related, to reinforce the critical steps you must take if you are regulated. Attendees will learn how to:

  • Frame regulatory responses into a strategy for information management and governance
  • Structure a governance organization that is responsive
  • Build and deploy formal EIM and governance
  • Leverage mistakes and successes via the case studies

Avoiding elephants – how to overcome major resistance issues to DG

The majority of data governance and quality programs still falter, in spite of growing business acceptance and support.

Experience is showing that there are common “elephants in the room” that data governance and data quality groups try to side step. But they are normal resistance patterns and can be managed, and even leveraged.  This tutorial will

  • Examine a series of “elephants” that could cause your program to stumble
  • Prescribe activities to deal with them
  • Look at real examples of them
  • Develop strategies to identify and deal with sensitive items

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?

JL: It has consistently been focused on DG and EIM projects. I expect the next two years to increase in term of DG. DG is being driven by regulations and business. We are also getting a lot of data quality work shaking out of our other efforts.

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

JL: The current “next big thing” causing buzz right now is “big data”. I run contrary to others but to me, Big Data is not a significant change, rather a marketing label for stuff we have had a long time. The real change is the increasing involvement of business areas in information management via DG programs.  It is really awesome to have so many business leaders engaging in the definition and deployment of data governance. We are finally getting the long-desired buy-in that the EIM field has been begging for over the last 25 years.

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

JL: Not one bit – what we do now for EIM or data governance, we need to do for Big Data. DG is DG is DG.  There are subtle shadings perhaps, but when we address DG or EIM we need to address it as a holistic program to cover ALL types of information uses.  Right now, Big Data is barely defined the same across two presenters, and is definitely misunderstood and misinterpreted in many organizations. Big Data might make an organization consider better data management practices, but that’s only because of the attention it is generating. If they stand back and think about it, the same organization asking for “Big Data” governance will be getting the same DG program they rejected as part of their failed MDM project.

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

JL: Two things – one: my firm and I emphasize hands-on delivery of these programs. Rather than do dozens of short-term projects to get clients started, we try and make sure we stick with them over the long term. Many of our projects have our staff staying over 2 years at a client. The books I have written were developed from these long term efforts, and are therefore more practical in their style and content.

Two – I restored and fly a 70-year-old airplane. But many people who know me know this already. What they might not know is I actively teach others to fly as a flight instructor, do aerobatics (for fun) and have flown many types of aircraft.  I am very active in preservation of aviation history and educating youth in aviation.

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

The workshop is on Monday, April 29, 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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