The Global Data Management Community

EDW 2017 - The DAMA International Perspective

Phew. What a week that was! EDW2017 was a non-stop DAMA-fest, with members of the DAMA-I Board having the first of our twice yearly face-to-face meetings over the weekend before EDW and then hitting the ground running to meet with Chapter Presidents and DAMA members from all around the world for an intense week of networking, planning, and DAMA Data Therapy.  

Add to that the fact that we were celebrating:  

•   21 Years of collaboration with the wonderful people at Dataversity  

•   Over 80 people attending our CDMP preparation workshop tutorial on the first day of the conference, taught by DAMA VP Professional Development, Katherine O'Keefe (DAMA-Ireland) and Certified CDMP Workshop Trainer, Lowell Fryman (DAMA-RMC) 

•   3 DAMA Award winners (more on that later)  

•   The final release date for DMBOK2 being announced!  

...and it was going to be a hectic week!  

The Hard Work  

The DAMA-I Board arrived in Atlanta a few days ahead of the conference for two solid days of board meetings. Board meetings are generally busy and this year was no different. Three years ago DAMA-I restated its vision and mission and we have been working to build on those foundations and put that vision into practice.   

After this year's meeting, the Board has aligned our strategic focus on five business pillars:   

•   Membership  

•   Certification & Training  

•   Research & Resources   

•   Chapters   

•   Partnerships   

DAMA has already invested and continues to invest in improved technology as support for these pillars. We have a number of exciting programs and initiatives on the go. We have already requested help from a number of DAMA members and partners to get these initiatives underway and will be looking for more people to get involved as momentum builds. For example, our CDMP program (Certification and Training) needs people to submit or review questions for exams in all areas of the DMBOK.   

Sunday (our third full day of meetings) saw the President's Council meeting (chaired by Jan Henderyckx – (DAMA-BeLux)), which is our chance to have a face-to-face meeting with as many representatives of our Chapters as could make it to the conference, with others joining by teleconference.  Every continent was represented and it was great to see the number of international attendees. As usual the discussion was interesting and intense; with some great ideas raised; questions asked and answered and a couple of concerns debated. As with the DAMA-I Board meetings, the PC is full of frank and open exchanges of views from people who want to develop DAMA for the future and we welcome the constructive criticism of our fellow DAMA leaders.  

We left feeling there was still work to be done, but that Chapters are all seeing the value of the organisation and were appreciative of the efforts made by the DAMA-I Board over the past few years to shakeup and begin to modernise DAMA.   

Sunday also saw the first of our CDMP certification exam sessions at EDW2017. As always, Dataversity obliged us with a room for the week. Over the course of the conference, in three days of exam sessions, over 100 examinations were taken at EDW2017. For the entire week the exam room had at least two DAMA Board members available for almost the entire day to allow conference delegates to take their exams at their leisure. For some of us, that meant hearing about great conference sessions at lunch breaks rather than getting to see them ourselves, but it was worth it to see people taking the CDMP exams with such gusto.  

By the end of the week the 100 exam takers had turned into 30 new CDMP holders at both Associate and Practitioner levels. We even had one candidate for CDMP MASTER! (To quote Yoda: "A Case Study now they must submit").  

On the Tuesday, DAMA-I President Sue Geuens had the hard job playing host and welcoming people to the conference and of handing out very deserved DAMA Awards for Excellence to three deserving winners Donna Burbank (DAMA-RMC), Katherine O'Keefe (DAMA-Ireland), and Salah Kamel(DAMA-Central).  

The DAMA-I Board manned the DAMA stand during the conference exhibit and had, thanks to the hard work of Missy Wittmann (DAMA-WI), copious amounts of SWAG to give away this year to current and prospective members. Dataversity won't make it official, but the rumour mill tells us that DAMA's conference socks were considered the "Swag of the Year" at EDW2017.   

EDW2017 also saw the launch of the Data Leaders' Manifesto by our colleagues and friends John Ladley, Tom Redman, Danette McGillivray, and Kelli O'Neal. DAMA-I wholeheartedly endorses this initiative as another key step to maturing the data management profession. The discussion of the manifesto actually picked up on themes raised by our VP of Online Services, Tony Mazzarella (DAMA-NE) in his "Data Babies" presentation, echoed strongly by our VP of Professional Development – we need to stop thinking about "data management" as a "technology discipline" and look to solve our skills shortages by asking people in the liberal arts and other disciplines to come join us in Data. DAMA has re-engineered the CDMP over the past 18 months to help serve exactly that need and begin building bridges to new entrants who might have been put off by the technology-centric focus of the old exams.  

The final full day of the conference was Thursday. Weary minds and bodies ran to give or attend their last sessions. Our closing keynote was a master class from four experienced CDOs sharing their thoughts and insights on the evolution of the role. They even had to think about what their favourite movie was and what they brought from that into their day job.  CJ Nakamura won with "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", because as a CDO you can create your own perfect day, no matter what the obstacles.  

To cap off our perfect last day, we announced the publication date of DMBOK2 – 23:59 Hawaii Standard time on the 30th June 2017 (data geeks like contingency).  

The Hard Play  

All work and no play makes DAMA a dull and boring organisation to be in. The best part of events like EDW is seeing our friends and colleagues from around the world begin to trickle into the conference venue over the weekend. This was particularly true this year as we were celebrating a significant birthday.  

By Monday, the trickle of data friends had become a flood and we all looked forward to the Casino Evening (sponsored by erwin) in honour of the 21 years of partnership with Tony Shaw and his phenomenal team at Dataversity.   

Following the lightning talks, which included two homages to Lightning Talk Emeritus Professor Glenn Bell (DAMA-Australia) amidst discussions of the joys of profiling, the ethical issues in AI and Big Data, the reasons we do things with data; we enjoyed a great evening of mock-gambling. Prize giving took place in a bustling room with generous food and drinks and DJ provided by our kind sponsors (did we mention... it was erwin).  

The now annual tradition of "Homemade Jam" took place immediately after the casino closed. Despite the best efforts of the professional band to keep a gaggle of data geeks away from instruments, two hours later we had learned that our Privacy Officer had kept his guitar skills secret, our VP Professional Development could carry a tune and our VP Online Services could play bass guitar at least as well as a certain Past President. We also had the old reliables of Robert Abate and "Bob the Harmonica Guy".  Those who stayed to the end would have seen DAMA Emeritus Advisor John Zachman on the dancefloor showing the younger generation how to do it. Just like Enterprise Architecture. We're not sure how he does it, but apparently, "Blockchain is the answer!"  

Around the conference we met with peers and friends and had endless discussions about data, about DAMA and (on at least one occasion) the influence of Hegelian philosophy in Oscar Wilde and James Joyce (this is the benefit of throwing our net wider when fishing for data people). As always we made new friends, connected with old colleagues and felt the common desire to improve the world by fixing the data problems.  For DAMA-I Board members it was seven hard days of work, particularly as most of us have day jobs or clients in different time zones we needed to be paying attention to as well. But we all returned to our respective origin points with our mental batteries recharged, even if our bodies were physically exhausted. 

Taking Stock  

A week later, we can take stock of where we are and what we achieved at EDW2017.  

We achieved lots. And we achieved it through the efforts of a relatively small number of volunteers who give up their time to do things for DAMA.   

•   We had conversations with at least three new Chapters, and reconnected with the new leadership of a number of others  

•   Chapter leaders were able to ask directly for help and advice on how to improve their governance and their ability to support their members  

•   Board members, on top of Board stuff and CDMP stuff and other stuff, gave over 12 presentations, workshops, panels, and lightning talks to help contribute to the education and knowledge sharing at the event  

•   We announced DMBOK2, and the fact it can be pre-ordered from May  

•   We reaffirmed our vision and mission and (hopefully) showed people that we can have fun doing DAMA stuff, because doing Data Stuff can be deadly serious 

A lot has been done. There is more to do. But with a small, committed, motivated team we have already achieved so much. Imagine what we could do with a LARGER committed, motivated team!?! Roll on EDW2018, when the Association celebrates its 30th birthday. We are going to need a bigger cake.  

DAMA continues to grow from strength to strength through the efforts and commitments of its members. We look forward to expanding the reach of DAMA around the globe, through new Chapters, new collaborations, new partners and the growing CDMP community.  

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