What I Learned About Data Management in Japan

December 6, 2011

I just returned from speaking at the DAMA Japan conference. A couple of the officers saw a presentation I gave at the DAMA International conference last April on performing Data Management maturity capability assessments and they asked me to repeat the speech at their conference in Tokyo.  The Data Management Association (DAMA dama.org) created a Body of Knowledge document in 2009 (DMBOK) that was translated into Japanese in 2010.  This conference had a lot of focus on the DMBOK, and so they were very interested in how I had been using it to assess Data Management maturity for our client organizations.  About 90 people attended my presentation. The people at the conference and the DAMA Japan organization were very interested in measuring how well their organizations were doing with Data Management, especially against how other organizations are doing.

One thing I learned during the conference was how they were using the “three R’s” concept: “reuse, recycle, reduce” concerning Data Management and adding a fourth “R” for “respect”.  In organizational data it is generally agreed that 80% or more of an organization’s data is ROT: redundant, out-dated, or trivial.  More of our planning time should be spent trying to reuse or remove data structures than on trying to create new data structures.  They had added an extra “R” to “reuse, recycle, and reduce” to stand for “respect”, a very Japanese consideration and always worth attention.

Another thing that I learned is that some of my Japanese colleagues will take a day to have a brainstorming session on different IT and strategy concepts, which sessions might very well happen in a hot spring or bath house.  Concerning Enterprise Architecture, they had recently had such a session and decided that it was critical that Enterprise Architecture include business innovation, employee motivation, and technology innovation.  This summary was shared with me after we had all consumed a great deal of sake and other alcohol and they were very willing to try to share their ideas in English.

The people I met at the Data Management conference seemed not very interested in Data Governance but, as I said extremely interested in assessing Data Management practices.  And it appears that adding a banquet or hot bath makes the discussion of data management and strategy even more insightful.