Thoughts on the Transition from the “T” in IT to the “I” in IT
Originally written as a Foreword
to Data Management Body Of Knowledge Book 2 (DMBOK2)
John A. Zachman
© 2019 John A. Zachman, Zachman International
This article originally was written as a Foreword to DMBOK2 but was inadvertently omitted in the published edition.
There have been many folks who generously devoted major portions of their lives and valuable experience to the Data Management Association (DAMA), the originator of DMBOK2, that deserve grateful acknowledgement of their contributions.
This article also recounts some important history of the Data Movement and within that, the history of DAMA and the motivation of past and current contributors to this vital endeavor. Although the contributors named herein are limited to the DMBOK, one only needs to look at the DAMA-I and the DAMA Chapters’ websites to see the names of the hosts of people who's selfless contributions must necessarily be appreciated.
Let our appreciation not only exist for this moment of acknowledgement but be CONTINUOUS as a tribute to the dedication and passion in these pivotal years of transition to the “Information Age.” Therefore, with this caveat, limiting acknowledgement to the DMBOK contributors and the formal DAMA organization, please also be grateful to the hosts of unnamed folks who persist and have persisted in the face of a world of opposition.
This dedication to DATA is ESSENTIAL to human survival in this uncertain time of transition, as, in the words of Peter Drucker, the world shifts orientation from the “T” in IT to the “I" in IT.
This DMBOK2 is a very significant document! I doubt that many people have any idea of how significant, how important, how extraordinary, how authoritative this book really is … and looking into the not too distant future, how significant it will be! And, I am confident that this will not be the last version of this seminal piece of work!
DMBOK2 has been in the making for nearly 30 years. The contributors are all experienced practitioners and many of whom you see as contributors have recognizable names. This is not a theoretical book, although it has authoritative theoretical substance. It is primarily a book of practice, experience, expression of what actually works by the very best practitioners in the industry today. Even the Publisher of the book, Steve Hoberman, is a well-known and well-respected author, educator and practitioner in the Data community.
Actually, this is the fourth version of the book. The original version was entitled “A Model for Data Resource Management Standards.” The next version was called “Guidelines for Implementing Data Resource Management.” All four editions of these two books were published by DAMA Chicago, one the oldest and most prestigious Chapters of DAMA International.
I have personally known Catherine Nolan (Allstate Insurance) for more years than she likely would want to acknowledge, who, along with Barbara Morgan (Allstate Insurance) edited the earlier versions of the Book. For many years, Cathy was instrumental in putting together the program for many of the DAMA conferences that are now known as the Enterprise Data World Conferences (EDW-Dataversity). Cathy is a consummate data professional. This present Enterprise Data World conference as well as the Enterprise Architecture Conference (EAC - IRM UK) are derivatives of the annual DAMA Conferences that originally were sponsored and administrated by local DAMA Chapters.
Many thousands of hours of work have been generously donated by the contributors and the editors to the creation of this masterwork. Pat Cupoli (Adrian Tannenbaum - Repository Research) of the Philadelphia Chapter, Susan Earley (Sears) of the Chicago Chapter and Deborah Henderson (DAHenderson Consulting) and Elena Sykora (Bell Media) of IRMAC Chapter in Toronto spent two years meeting weekly, working with authors gathering, revising, consolidating and formatting the material for this current version. Laura Sebastion-Coleman has expanded and reorganized the knowledge areas on the DAMA “Wheel” and made the Data Ethics section now, Chapter 2. This brings to the forefront the imperative to respect people when using their data. Laura also has been suffering the stress of producing the final draft of DMBOK2 (including my Foreword) for publication.
All of the editors and I think it is safe to say, all of the contributors, are very quick to observe that this is not an exhaustive compilation of knowledge about data, but one that represents the best understanding of a practitioner’s requirements at this moment in time of publication. Therefore, as I mentioned above, “this is not the last version of this seminal piece of work!”
It all started in 1975 when David Schriver, the Data Administrator for Carter Hawley Hale, a major Los Angeles department store chain of that era, called a handful of his friends around the Los Angeles area to have lunch about once a month. We all got together to commiserate about the sorry state of data in those days. (Actually, not too much has changed in that regard except now there are a lot more of us!)
Carter Hawley Hale was acquired by one of the other department store chains and David went to work for Boeing in Seattle. He started the second chapter of DAMA in Seattle (which they named DRMA for “Data Resource Management Association”) and then DAMA migrated to Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta and to it’s present international scope of 70 Chapters around the world. (See www.DAMA.org.)
When computers came on the scene in the late 1950’s and early ’60’s, the computer departments originally were called Electronic Data Processing (EDP) or Automated Data Processing (ADP) … the names were later changed to Data Processing (DP), then to Information Systems (IS), then to Management Information Systems (MIS) then to Information Management (IM) and later to Information Technology (IT), which tends to be the predominant name these days. We changed the names on the doors a number of times but typically, nothing behind the doors actually changed … it was still 1) DATA and 2) Processing … only somehow or other, it seems that many people forget about number 1) DATA ! In a lot of minds today it is all about and only about Processing!
I have a friend who actually knew John Von Neumann and I believe that it was he that told me that von Neumann actually invented two kinds of computers, the Data Computer and the Process Computer. The Data Computer kept the data in the processor and passed the instructions past the data whereas the Process Computer kept the instructions in the processor and passed the data past the instructions. It was the process computer that became commercially successful in the early days because the major use of computers was for processing nuclear algorithms which were complex processing of a rather few variables.
Actually, I used one of the early computers. It was in the Combat Information Center of the USS Agerholm (DD-826), in about a 4 foot steel cube that performed one calculation, the elevation of the gun based on the distance to the target and the speed of the projectile. Well, it was a little more complicated than that since it also contained a gyroscope that measured the roll and pitch of the ship in the water and adjusted the calculation for the ship’s motion. (The data was not the issue other than the calculation product.)
Later, computers were employed in the commercial (business) community for improving productivity by using machines to perform the business processes rather than people performing them manually. It was “better, faster and cheaper” to use machines to perform the processes rather than using people for processing everything manually.
In fact, “Better, Faster, Cheaper” was the marketing slogan at IBM when I went to work for them in 1965.
Actually, in the early 1970’s, IBM produced a version of the Data Computer, code-named “F/S” (Future System”), in the Systems Development Division (SDD) but IBM never brought F/S to market. It was 1975 that IBM terminated the development of F/S and shut down SDD. Much technical history has been written about F/S including a document by a very credible source and friend of mine, John Sowa, co-author of the second article on Enterprise Architecture, published in the IBM Systems Journal in 1993. However, I knew some of the SDD folks that were terminated that gave me some unofficial history. The design was so foreign and different from the existing hardware and software that migration from the current installations would be traumatic to say the least and IBM was unwilling to endure that trauma in the marketplace. In 1965, when they introduced the “IBM 360” series of machines they endured that same trauma and didn’t want to relive it again.
When SDD was shut down, some of the development folks went to Rochester, Minnesota where the data concepts appeared in the IBM System 38 which had some characteristics that we might recognize today as similar to Teradata machines. Other SDD folks went to the database development lab in Santa Teresa, California where they attempted to implement the data ideas in software. Some of those software data characteristics you see in Repository products today.
All of this to say that process concepts dominated even the hardware in the industry and the data concepts have played a secondary role for the entire history of Data Processing (IT) by whatever name you choose to call it. We see this phenomenon in the currently popular technology fads that are attracting a lot of attention, the emphasis being on process to the detriment of the data …
H O W E V E R
Peter Drucker, in an August 24th 1998 article in Forbes ASAP, “The Next Information Revolution,” said “the next information revolution is well underway, but it is not happening where information scientists, information executives, and the information industry in general are looking for it. It is not a revolution in technology, machinery, techniques, software or speed. It is a revolution in CONCEPTS. … So far, for 50 years … the information revolution has centered on the ’T’ (“Technology”) in IT (“Information Technology”). The next information revolution asks, What is the MEANING of information and what is its PURPOSE?”
In this article, Drucker observes that the computer is not the first information revolution but the fourth. The first revolution was the invention of writing, a means for recording information (papyrus), five or six thousand years ago. The second revolution was the invention of books (scrolls), an accumulation of bodies of knowledge, several thousand years later. The third revolution was the invention of the printing press and movable type between 1450 and 1455 AD. Therefore, this current, computer revolution is actually the fourth information revolution.
Drucker continues regarding the third revolution, the printing press: “Printers (the technology owners) were courted by kings, princes, the Pope, and rich merchant cities and were showered with money and honors. … By 1580 or so, the printers, with their focus on technology had become ordinary craftsmen, respectable tradesmen to be sure, but definitely not of the upper class. Their place was soon taken by what we would now call publishers … people and firms whose focus was no longer on the ’T’ (“Technology”) in IT but on the ‘I’ (‘Information’).”
Here is another quote from the Drucker article: “The computer actually may have aggravated management’s degenerative tendency to focus inward on costs.” May I remind you of my earlier observation that in 1965, when I went to work for IBM, the marketing slogan for computers was “Better, Faster, Cheaper,” the process motivation for implementing computers.
I have extensively quoted the Peter Drucker article for two reasons. First, I believe Peter Drucker is correct … he was just a little early (which is not unusual for Peter Drucker). Second, I wanted to impress upon you the profound significance of this book, the DMBOK2. Not only is it a practical assembly of relevant knowledge for today’s data practitioner. But, even more significant, it is a base for building for the future as the focus in DP (IT) mutates to the Data (“I”) in Data Processing (“IT”) in contrast with the Processing (“T”) in Data Processing (“IT”). It is the MEANING and PURPOSE of the DATA that is central to the creation of VALUE and WEALTH, not simply improving productivity by reducing costs. (I cannot help but think about Blockchain in this regard.)
When will this mutation actually take place? This mutation is the whole intent and reason for being of DAMA, the Data Management Association … to articulate, facilitate and support this mutation. Anyone who was in attendance at the recent Enterprise Data World Conference in Atlanta heard many presentations addressing this issue. Fifty years from now, many of us will still be around (probably retired by then) but we will say, “we were there!” “We saw it all!!” “We even have our own copy of the DMBOK2 that chronicles the progress and state of the art in 2017!”
We have many people to thank for this monumental undertaking and DMBOK2 book production including visionary people like Cathy Nolan, Barb Morgan, Susan Earley, Pat Cupoli, Deborah Henderson, Elena Sykora, Laura Sebastian-Coleman and Steve Hoberman, not to mention the host of author contributors and the entire DAMA International membership.
Now we embrace DMBOK2 … and look forward to DMBOK3!!!
John A. Zachman