Data aspects of a software implementation are too often overlooked in favor of the flashier components of a software product. This holds true in both reality as well as in the world of fiction. In 2002, Tom Cruise starred in The Minority Report, playing a police officer in the future where a series of psychics predict crimes before they happen. In one of the first scenes, we see Cruise’s character use a futuristic user interface by waving his hands in space, pinching his fingers, expanding his hands, and using other gestures to quickly move through data to narrow in on a suspect. While this scene has become somewhat iconic over the past few years in terms of driving user interface design, I doubt many people watching that scene thought to themselves, “Hmmm, I wonder how they moved and harmonized the data across all of those disparate systems in order to consolidate it all for use in that one interface?”
In the current state of computing, however, the majority of software purchases will require some sort of data migration process as part of the implementation. When taking on the movement of data between systems, that function is often considered a migration where the data is transferred from one system to another. This type of simple migration will technically get the data into the new system but will, more often than not, cause the new system to fall short of the functionality for which it was purchased. Instead, what is required of these new systems is a data modernization effort where the data is not only moved but also “modernized” to meet the new models and standards of the newer system.
Data Migration vs. Data Modernization
Modernized data, to put it simple, is high quality data tuned to execute the processes of your organization. In order to reach that state, the process to get the data modernized must provide visibility and accountability from beginning to end and continuously drive for business ready, relevant data. The users closest to the data, that feel the impact of the data, and that live with the data on a day-to-day basis are not the technical resources that administer the systems, but rather the business users that work with the inputs and outputs to those systems as a part of their everyday jobs. The business process of data modernization should bring those business users to the table as early and often as possible, because it is those users that need the data modernized to execute modern business processes to drive the value of their organization.
Data migrations have relatively simple lift-and-shift processes, whereas data modernizations require complex business processes that engage multiple stakeholders throughout an organization. Often, these modernization initiatives bring together a group of people with skills that are not commonly brought together on a team. With different departments and different skill sets present, a business process designed to get the right input at the right time from the right people is needed to ensure that data is modernized correctly. Establishing high quality business processes around data modernization not only gets the data modernized, but also sets the stage for future information governance initiatives and creates valuable work products that live on well beyond an individual modernization project.
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