erwin Expert Blog

erwin’s Predictions for 2021: Data Relevance Shines at the End of the Tunnel

I think it’s fair to say that we’re all glad to usher in a New Year.

Unexpected, unprecedented and disruptive, 2020 required radical transformation – within global organizations and our day-to-day lives.

Our predictions for 2021 are rooted in what we’ve learned from the past year and the relevance of data in getting us to where we are and where we need to go. With that said, here are seven predictions for the New Year:

Data predictions 2021

1. “Death of the Office” Alters Compliance:

Because of the pandemic, many organizations have decided remote work is here to stay. However, challenges persist if your organization doesn’t take proper precautions in supporting a remote workforce — from human resources to productivity and IT security – especially when regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are involved.

In highly regulated environments, such as financial services, healthcare and pharma, attestations, audit trails and compliance reporting are required regardless of circumstances and will be difficult with a manual, laborious approach. As a result, look for more automated compliance solutions to hit the market.

2. Data’s Move to the Cloud Hits Warp Speed:

As a result of COVID-19, enterprises are expediting their digital transformation and cloud migration efforts at record rates, with no end in sight. Historically, moving legacy data to the cloud hasn’t been easy or fast.

As businesses migrate from legacy systems to the cloud, data governance and data intelligence will become increasingly relevant to the C-suite and tools to automate and expedite the process will take center stage.

3. AI-Fueled Data Governance:

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been narrowly tied to the internet of things (IoT) with smart features like Alexa, Nest and self-driving cars. However, that definition is too narrow in terms of AI’s relation to data governance.

AI will drive automation to ensure an organization’s framework is always accurate and up to date. AI-powered data governance will ensure data environments always stay up to date and controlled, enabling compliance and tagging of sensitive data.

4. Rise of Data Governance Standards:

Despite the rise of data governance, industry-wide standards have been lacking, surprisingly. This year, that will change as semantic metadata comes into its own driven by Microsoft’s Common Data Model (CDM). The CDM provides a best-practices approach to defining data to accelerate data literacy, automation, integration and governance across the enterprise. We anticipate more standards to be developed and released in CDM’s wake.

5. EA Becomes Integral to Innovation:

Enterprise architecture (EA) is having a resurgence as COVID-19 has forced organizations around the globe to re-examine or reimagine themselves. However, even in “normal times,” business leaders need to understand how to grow, bring new products to market through organic growth or acquisition, identify new trends and opportunities, determine if new opportunities provide a return on investment, etc.

Organizations that can identify these opportunities and respond to them have a distinct edge over their competitors. EA will become even more critical to innovation in the year ahead.

6. Data Becomes a Matter of Life or Death:

To say that data will be the difference between life and death in 2021 is not hyperbole. The initial rounds of COVID 19 vaccines are being distributed, and at the heart of these monumental medical breakthroughs is data.

From re-engineering research and development to managing trials and regulatory approvals to setting up manufacturing and distribution, data has made and will continue to make a life-and-death difference.

Figuratively, data will mean life or death to businesses around the world to restoring some sort of normal activities, organizations across all industries will rely on data to make it happen. That data will need to be accurate and trusted so it can lead to actionable insights – and it will need to be governed throughout its lifecycle.

7. Workplace Humanity:

In 2020, the boundaries separating work from the rest of our lives shrank considerably. Whether it was via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, etc., the pandemic forced us to bring our true selves, our spouses, our kids and our pets to work last year.

As a result, we’ve developed a new level of humanity in the workplace, which may be the ultimate silver lining from these dark times. From employees to customers, we’ve had to communicate more, listen more, and help each other more. My hope is that this trend of being human in the workplace extends beyond 2021.

COVID changed everything. However, I believe we will start to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel in 2021. Innovation will accelerate at a pace we haven’t seen in years, perhaps not since the dot-com boom. But to succeed in the new normal and avoid false starts and bad decisions, enterprises must be able to find, navigate, understand and use their most valuable data assets.

Metadata and its management and governance are key to organizations being able to fully harness the benefits of their data. As such, erwin is pleased to sponsor the first webinar of Dataversity’s 2021 Real-World Data Governance Webinar Series: “Data and Metadata Will Not Govern Themselves.” Click here to learn more and register.

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Learn. Transform. Advance.

Learn. Transform. Advance.

That was the theme of the global conference we produced in October, but I’d venture to say it’s the mantra global organizations need to adopt as we continue to deal with the most disruptive event of our lifetime: COVID-19.


When I look back, I should not be surprised that 2020 has been incredibly busy for us here at erwin. I’ve made decisions during the past nine months I never thought I’d have to, and I’m sure this is the reality for you and your organization as well.

As CEO, of course I had big plans for us, but then the world and everything in it changed. However, data is central to our mission, and data is the key to sound decision-making. Thankfully, we were in the right business at the right time.

After making sure our employees were safe and equipped to work from home, once we closed our offices, we emerged with more focus on that mission and more time to spend with customers. All the time I used to spend traveling, I now spend talking – or listening – to my employees or our customers from my dining room table.


To survive and eventually thrive in the face of radical disruption requires transformation that’s just as radical:

  • Developing new business models, like breweries and distillers manufacturing hand sanitizer
  • Reimaging current business models, like moving fitness classes outdoors
  • Creating new products and services, such as restaurants providing text check-in curb service
  • Market expansion, with traditional grocers becoming online shopping hubs

The companies that come out of this historic period of global uncertainty and change will be those that take an intelligent, data-driven approach to business.

The best example I can point to, which underscores the importance and relevance of data, is pharmaceutical companies that have been working at unprecedented speed to develop not only effective treatments for the coronavirus but also vaccines. Earlier this week, several historic announcements were made about the availability of the first shots and the plans to ship and administer them.

At the heart of these medical breakthroughs is data. From re-engineering research and development to managing trials and regulatory approvals to setting up manufacturing and distribution, data has made and will continue to make a life-and-death difference. Although I can’t share the details, I’m proud that erwin had a hand in this massive global health initiative.

While your organization may not be on the front line in the fight against the virus, you’ve no doubt been impacted by it. Have you had to revisit and reset priorities? Change your business processes? Confront new compliance challenges as a result of the changes you had to institute?

And when all the crazy ends, and it will end, are you prepared to capitalize on new opportunities?


Adversity spurs innovation, and I believe innovation will drive forward at a rapid pace once the global ecosystem finds its new normal. We might well be on our way. Will you be ready?

Enterprises must be able to find, navigate, understand and use their most valuable data assets. We knew that to be true before the pandemic, but now it’s become even more obvious.

Despite social distancing, I have to say our customer intimacy has never been greater. I believe that’s because our employees are operating with a heightened sense of purpose and urgency. We focused on doing what’s right, including making training for our solutions and other resources available online at no charge and releasing a free app to help organizations communicate and manage their remote workforces more effectively. We also made professional and consulting services more accessible.

The point is that if you stay close to your employees and your customers, good things will happen. Over communication is key. Those relationships will develop and deepen, even via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Perhaps that’s because we’ve all realized how much we have in common. I might have a “C” in my title, but my wife is still annoyed that I’ve hijacked the dining room, and my daughters make a lot of noise being home instead of at school. Titles have taken a backseat to humanity as we all try to stay healthy, sane and accomplish what’s on our to-do lists each day.

Finding that balance is important. You must make time for your family and yourself because we do seem to be working longer and harder. Exercise. Listen to less news. Be thankful.

And with that, I want to express my appreciation to our customers, partners, employees and their families. I wish each of you health, time to enjoy the holiday season in a meaningful but perhaps smaller way, and here is to a brighter 2021 together.

erwin Insights 2020 on demand

erwin Expert Blog Data Intelligence

Surviving Radical Disruption with Data Intelligence

It’s certainly no secret that data has been growing in volume, variety and velocity, and most companies are overwhelmed by managing it, let alone harnessing it to put it to work.

We’re now generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and 90% of the world’s data volume has been created in the past two years alone. With this absolute data explosion, it’s nearly impossible to filter out the time-sensitive data, the information that has immediate relevance and impact on your business.

And this time sensitivity is a massive issue, as taking a proactive and data-driven approach can literally mean life or death to your business or to your customers. And that’s where data analytics can play a huge role.

By leveraging the power of the cloud, harnessing data from the Internet of Things (IoT) and other events, and processing this data in near-real time, analytics helps to effectively process the relentless incoming data feed.

Without automation and the development of a governed data pipeline, you’ll never have enough data scientists in the front office to put the data to work. The benefits of fast time to insights is clear, regardless of the industry you’re in.

Think about these examples: a communications agency that needs to get out in front of a difficult message, a retailer driving sales based on real-time customer behavior, a logistics and delivery company needing to understand road conditions, stoppages and up-to-the-minute weather, or a hospital that needs to tailor patient care based on the latest public health findings.

Your data needs to fuel rapid decisions that make your organization more effective, customer-centric and competitive. This was true before the world changed.

COVID-19 Changed Everything

COVID changed everything. It’s a radical disruptor the likes of which we’ve never seen.

As a CEO, a husband and a father, I’ve made decisions during the past seven months that I never dreamed possible, and I’m sure this is true for you and your family – and business – as well.

Now to survive and thrive in the face of radical disruption requires radical transformation and new business models. Reimagining business, like moving fitness centers outdoors, or developing new products and services, such as restaurants packaging fruits and vegetables to sell as food bundles, or market expansion, like traditional grocers that are becoming online shopping hubs.

The companies that come out of this historic period of global uncertainty and change are those who’ve taken intelligent and data-driven approaches to their businesses.

What holds most companies back from faster time to insights and leveraging radical transformation? I think those answers can be found by asking these core questions:

  1. What data do I have?
  2. Where is the data?
  3. What people and systems are using that data and for what purposes?
  4. What processes should governance use?
  5. How is this data relevant and accessible to the business?  

Data Intelligence Provides an EDGE

There’s a common denominator in what they’re all missing, and that is data intelligence.

IDC defines data intelligence as business, technical, relational, and operational metadata that provides transparency of data profiles, classification, quality, location, context, and lineage, providing people, processes, and technology with trustworthy, reliable data.

In a new IDC Solution Brief, “The Value of Robust Data Intelligence to Enable Data Governance with erwin,” its authors state:

Data is the lifeblood of the digital economy — it is what is driving new business models, better customer experiences, better decision-making, and artificially intelligent automation. The global pandemic in 2020 has accelerated digital transformation and amplified the value of data in what will become the next normal as the global economy struggles through recovery. In a world where market conditions, supply chains, work locations, and communication methods are constantly changing, data is a constant source that can be used to inform decisions from crisis to recovery. To use data effectively, it needs to be trusted, understood, and used appropriately, and herein lies many problems that organizations face in the digital economy.

The IDC authors also interviewed erwin customers who described the erwin Data Intelligence Suite, part of the erwin EDGE platform, as a fundamental component of their efforts to generate more value from data while minimizing data-related risk.

The erwin EDGE helps organizations unlock their potential by maximizing the security, quality and value of their data assets, and it operationalizes these steps by connecting enterprise architecture, business process and data modeling with data intelligence software.

The result is an automated, real-time, high-quality data pipeline from which accurate insights can be derived.

The erwin EDGE enables organizations to see how data flows through and impacts all their business, technology and data architectures. Then all stakeholders within a company, those in IT as well as the larger enterprise, can collaborate to make better decisions based upon data truth, not just gut instinct.

Parts of this blog are excerpted from my keynote on day No. 1 of erwin Insights 2020, our virtual conference on enterprise modeling and data governance/intelligence.

You can view the entire keynote and all other sessions of the conference by registering here.

erwin Insights 2020

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Top 10 Data Governance Trends for 2020: Data’s Real Value Comes Into Focus

Understanding the data governance trends for the year ahead will give business leaders and data professionals a competitive edge.

Happy New Year!

Regulatory compliance and data breaches have driven the data governance narrative during the past few years.

While these will remain big data governance trends for 2020, we anticipate organizations will finally begin tapping into the true value of data as the foundation of the digital business model.

In the year ahead, companies with the ability to harness, secure and leverage information effectively will be better equipped than others to promote digital transformation and gain a competitive advantage.

To that end, data is finally no longer just an IT issue. As organizations become data-driven and awash in an overwhelming amount of data from multiple data sources (AI, IoT, ML, etc.), they will find new ways to get a handle on data quality and focus on data management processes and best practices.

Our predictions for the top data governance trends for 2020

Data Governance Trends

1. More U.S. states and other countries will adopt data regulations:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has set the bar, becoming a de facto standard for data security and privacy across Europe as well as other geographies.

On January 1st, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect, so more American states and other countries will replicate these types of data regulations.

2. Data catalogs are hot:

While some retail catalogers, like Sears, have fallen on hard times, data catalogs are on the rise because the concept works. Gartner even refers to them as “the new black in data management and analytics.”

Regardless of industry or initiative, all organizations need an organized data catalog to easily find and understand their data sources.

3. Enterprise data gets in the game:

Data literacy, enabling employees to derive meaningful insights from data, is going to emerge as one of the major data governance trends. One way organizations will begin to increase enterprise-wide data literacy is by gamifying it.

Employees who demonstrate analytics expertise, critical thinking and storytelling to promote data literacy throughout the organization will be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

4. Data finds a soul:

Highly regulated industries will begin to change their philosophies, embracing data ethics as part of their overall business strategy and not just a matter of regulatory compliance.

In addition, ethical artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications will be used by organizations to ensure their training data sets are well-defined, consistent and of high quality.

5. Government will show the rest of us how to use data to improve service delivery:

Government usually lags behind other industries when it comes to innovation.

However, local government agencies, particularly those responsible for schools and social services, will lead the way in using data governance to drive digital transformation in providing better services, including safety and security.

Gartner Magic Quadrant

6. Data modeling is cool again, seriously:

Today’s data modeling is not your father’s data modeling. While it’s always been the best way to understand complex data sources and automate design standards and integrity rules, the role of data modeling will continue to expand as the fulcrum of collaboration between data generators, stewards and consumers.

That’s because it’s the only way to visualize metadata, and metadata is now the heart of enterprise data management and governance/ intelligence efforts.

7. Managing data at the edge:

Adoption has been slower than we thought, but this is the year we believe edge computing will take hold because organizations need to view, manage and secure this data and quickly incorporate it into an automated pipeline.

For example, IoT device data is often integrated and aggregated with other enterprise data sources but still needs to be documented and governed like any other data. Mapping and cataloging these data sources makes this a manageable challenge.

8. Data valuation becomes the holy grail:

Data will finally be treated as a true asset with an actual monetary value assigned to it, just like physical assets, intellectual property and even brands.

The ability to discover, understand, govern and socialize data assets, aka data governance, is crucial to this process especially in ensuring data quality and being able to present compelling, data-dependent use cases.

9. The real CDO stands up:

Does the “CD” stand for “chief data” or “chief digital” officer? These roles have started to blur, but we predict chief data officer will become the more prominent title and in-demand job because data is central to an organization’s success both from a compliance and day-to-day operational perspective.

10. Marketing and enterprise data collide:

As data becomes increasingly democratized throughout the organization, the marketing department will become more connected to the data pipeline and therefore a power player in using data insights to help the enterprise achieve its business goals. Marketing, even, will get its own line item in the IT budget.

Value of Data Intelligence IDC Report

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Top 10 Data Governance Predictions for 2019

This past year witnessed a data governance awakening – or as the Wall Street Journal called it, a “global data governance reckoning.” There was tremendous data drama and resulting trauma – from Facebook to Equifax and from Yahoo to Marriott. The list goes on and on. And then, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect, with many organizations scrambling to become compliant.

So what’s on the horizon for data governance in the year ahead? We’re making the following data governance predictions for 2019:

Data Governance Predictions

Top 10 Data Governance Predictions for 2019

1. GDPR-esque regulation for the United States:

GDPR has set the bar and will become the de facto standard across geographies. Look at California as an example with California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) going into effect in 2020. Even big technology companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Twitter are encouraging more regulations in part because they realize that companies that don’t put data privacy at the forefront will feel the wrath from both the government and the consumer.

2. GDPR fines are coming and they will be massive:

Perhaps one of the safest data governance predictions for 2019 is the coming clamp down on GDPR enforcement. The regulations weren’t brought in for show and so it’s likely the fine-free streak for GDPR will be ending … and soon. The headlines will resemble data breaches or hospitals with Health Information Portability Privacy Act (HIPAA) violations in the U.S. healthcare sector. Lots of companies will have an “oh crap” moment and realize they have a lot more to do to get their compliance house in order.

3. Data policies as a consumer buying criteria:

The threat of “data trauma” will continue to drive visibility for enterprise data in the C-suite. How they respond will be the key to their long-term success in transforming data into a true enterprise asset. We will start to see a clear delineation between organizations that maintain a reactive and defensive stance (pain avoidance) versus those that leverage this negative driver as an impetus to increase overall data visibility and fluency across the enterprise with a focus on opportunity enablement. The latter will drive the emergence of true data-driven entities versus those that continue to try to plug the holes in the boat.

4. CDOs will rise, better defined role within the organization:

We will see the chief data officer (CDO) role elevated from being a lieutenant of the CIO to taking a proper seat at the table beside the CIO, CMO and CFO.  This will give them the juice needed to create a sustainable vision and roadmap for data. So far, there’s been a profound lack of consensus on the nature of the role and responsibilities, mandate and background that qualifies a CDO. As data becomes increasingly more vital to an organization’s success from a compliance and business perspective, the role of the CDO will become more defined.

5. Data operations (DataOps) gains traction/will be fully optimized:

Much like how DevOps has taken hold over the past decade, 2019 will see a similar push for DataOps. Data is no longer just an IT issue. As organizations become data-driven and awash in an overwhelming amount of data from multiple data sources (AI, IOT, ML, etc.), organizations will need to get a better handle on data quality and focus on data management processes and practices. DataOps will enable organizations to better democratize their data and ensure that all business stakeholders work together to deliver quality, data-driven insights.

Data Management and Data Governance

6. Business process will move from back office to center stage:

Business process management will make its way out of the back office and emerge as a key component to digital transformation. The ability for an organization to model, build and test automated business processes is a gamechanger. Enterprises can clearly define, map and analyze workflows and build models to drive process improvement as well as identify business practices susceptible to the greatest security, compliance or other risks and where controls are most needed to mitigate exposures.

7. Turning bad AI/ML data good:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are consumers of data. The risk of training AI and ML applications with bad data will initially drive the need for data governance to properly govern the training data sets. Once trained, the data they produce should be well defined, consistent and of high quality. The data needs to be continuously governed for assurance purposes.

8. Managing data from going over the edge:

Edge computing will continue to take hold. And while speed of data is driving its adoption, organizations will also need to view, manage and secure this data and bring it into an automated pipeline. The internet of things (IoT) is all about new data sources (device data) that often have opaque data structures. This data is often integrated and aggregated with other enterprise data sources and needs to be governed like any other data. The challenge is documenting all the different device management information bases (MIBS) and mapping them into the data lake or integration hub.

9. Organizations that don’t have good data harvesting are doomed to fail:

Research shows that data scientists and analysts spend 80 percent of their time preparing data for use and only 20 percent of their time actually analyzing it for business value. Without automated data harvesting and ingesting data from all enterprise sources (not just those that are convenient to access), data moving through the pipeline won’t be the highest quality and the “freshest” it can be. The result will be faulty intelligence driving potentially disastrous decisions for the business.

10. Data governance evolves to data intelligence:

Regulations like GDPR are driving most large enterprises to address their data challenges. But data governance is more than compliance. “Best-in-breed” enterprises are looking at how their data can be used as a competitive advantage. These organizations are evolving their data governance practices to data intelligence – connecting all of the pieces of their data management and data governance lifecycles to create actionable insights. Data intelligence can help improve the customer experiences and enable innovation of products and services.

The erwin Expert Blog will continue to follow data governance trends and provide best practice advice in the New Year so you can see how our data governance predictions pan out for yourself. To stay up to date, click here to subscribe.

Data Management and Data Governance: Solving the Enterprise Data Dilemma