Expert Insight: 'The Old “IT Department Just Says NO” Will No Longer Suffice'

We recently sat down with Michael Hiskey, Chief Strategy Officer at Semarchy


We recently sat down with Michael Hiskey, Chief Strategy Officer at Semarchy who are supporting the Chief Data Officer Summit in New York on December 11 & 12.

Michael is a long-time data industry executive, who spends his days reinventing how technology can help improve business outcomes. An accomplished writer, speaker and blogger, he enjoys telling stories of ingenuity and innovation. He currently runs marketing for Semarchy, the Intelligent Master Data Management company. In this role, he has worked to accentuate the smart, agile and measurable capabilities unique to the xDM solution. Michael has held numerous leadership roles at large as well as growth organizations - IBM, MicroStrategy, Trifacta, Kognitio, Socure, Informix and Credit Suisse. He lives in New York and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

How has the Data Management landscape changed in the past 5 years?

Over the past five years, the data management landscape has been completely reshaped. “Big Data” has moved from the periphery, to the center, and now to the background as applications are just expected to deal well with the volume, velocity and variety. To make sense of it all, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more specifically Machine Learning has taken an ever-increasing role, as the requirements of the business dictate that it’s not only aData Scientist that needs to have information that is trusted, governed and analyzed at their fingertips -- but users throughout an organization.

What are the biggest challenges that Semarchy clients currently face?

The majority of our clients at Semarchy are Fortune 1,000 organizations that have the need to master and govern data across multiple domains, simultaneously updating, organizing, enriching and improving the information they have on customers, partners, suppliers, locations, etc.

Their top challenges are accommodating new regulations, such as IDMP and GDPR, while at the same time leveraging those same initiatives to ‘move the ball forward’ for bread-and-butter business challenges like customer retention, up-sell, cross-sell and satisfaction. In addition, many clients are still not satisfied that they have an end-to-end view across and through their supply-chain.

What I mean by that is that it’s no longer efficient to understand everything going on inside the four walls of the business when it comes to these domains; I need to reach way back from R&D all the way through to post-sale support. As an example, Mundipharma, a major pharmaceutical company that is our client, has to understand the details of medical products that are manufactured, moved, stored, distributed, and consumed across over 100 independent affiliated companies, and report in specific on these things for an ISO Protocol around the IDentification of Medical Products (IDMP) in near real-time.

How do you see theData Management landscape changing in the future?

Non-technical users in the business units, especially as millennials get into more management jobs, understand that everything is possible with data. The old “IT Department just says NO” will no longer suffice, as layman users will expect trusted data at their fingertips, perform their own analysis, and be comfortable curating data to which they have the highest contextual understanding.

What that means is Bank Managers owning their customer data, having that regularly updated by associates such as tellers and loan officers, and using that information to better serve customers in an increasingly competitive market.

For this to work, enterprise software applications that had been solely in the domain of techies in the ‘engine room’ of the company, will need to become easily consumable by any kind of user, at the end-points near interaction with customers, buyers, suppliers, etc. Taking this approach at Semarchy, we completely reimagined the user experience, using the Material Design approach employed by Google. Without training, an intuitive interface makes the difference to maximize adoption and minimize disruption, something every organization will need to accomplish with every new project.

At the same time, applications need to anticipate, learn from, and generally better the experience for every user by furthering the use of AI. This means that repetitive tasks are automated, and knowledge workers can focus more on higher-value data activities. As data moves to the endpoints, and applications responsive to any device (things with and without keyboards), are in the hands of people empowered to do something with it.

What can companies do to prepare for these changes?

To get ready for the new normal in data management, organizations need to think ahead to how they democratize data for every user. Democratizing mandates redesigning, or embracing modern design thinking for a more intuitive user experience. This also means taking on new data projects, but doing so in an iterative, non-disruptive manner--not a “big bang” approach. They need to get solid business value from every one of these things, and that means showing in advance the ROI, timelines, milestones and expectations from each new application. Organizations will no longer stomach the “it takes a year and costs a million dollars” answer to every data management problem.

What are groundbreaking innovations you expect to see in the next 5 years?

In the next few years, AI will get real for every business application. It will be a core requirement for software to do the basic tasks without a lot of prodding, and knowledge workers to add more value than just pushing paper. At the same time, all of the various parts of the data management landscape will converge, as businesses look to more agile, simpler platforms that can accomplish more of the tasks required. Too much time is wasted integrating cobbled-together platforms from mega-vendors that never really satisfied the needs they claimed to solve. Covering over technical and intellectual debt with marketing will become increasingly transparent, as all users become more savvy and data is ingrained in their psyche. In general, this means moving further and further and further away from the technology, towards driving stone-cold business value with every interaction.

You can check out more from Semarchy at their booth at Chief Data Officer Summit in New York on December 11 & 12.


Read next:

Why Blockchain Hype Must End