Labore et Constantia

It takes effort and energy to start with data management

One of the best museums in the world is Plantin Moretusin the city center of Antwerp, Belgium. The museum focusses on the work of C. Plantin, and J. Moretus who opened the doors of their famous printing business as early as 1555. They are famous for the quality of their work, as well as for several business innovations. For example, they very quickly found out that mass customization helps to lower production cost: print heaps of maps, and make a custom atlas for each customer, or use the same (botanic) full-page images in print but combine them with texts in different languages. 

Plantin adopted the motto “labore et constantia”, which roughly translates to “through hard work and perseverance”. In the museum, the motto is symbolized with a compass: one leg stands for perseverance, whereas the rotating leg stands for hard work.

On my last annual ‘pilgrimage’ to the museum, I realized that the motto also applies to building a data management capability in organizations.

Data is a key asset for many organizations. Processes can be seen as the value creation engine of the organization, and data can be seen as the fuelfor these processes. Simply put: no data, no value creation. This implies that it is a good business practice to manage data as an asset. This is the realm of data management. In my experience as consultant, trainer, and researcher, I have come to the conclusion that ‘doing data management’ is often seen as something that (a) costs extra work, (b) is mostly about book keeping, and (c) is mostly technical in nature. In my opinion, the opposite is true. The corollary is: building this capability requires staminaand perseverance. It requires hard workto educate people, to learn what the best approach is for your organization, and to reap the benefits of your initiatives.  

I am currently working on a book with the working title: “Data management, a gentle introduction”. The premise of the book is to give an overview of this field from a business perspective, balancing academic rigor with practical relevance and guidance. Stay tuned for more information!

Bas van Gils

Managing partner @ Strategy Alliance

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