The Mobile Data Modeler’s Christmas Wishlist

Technology marches on. In November I attended CA World. Among the most prominent areas of focus was virtualization, cloud computing and IT management via the cloud. The emergence of tablet and mobile devices as players in the IT arena was also very evident when walking around the exhibition floor, listening to keynotes and attending sessions.

Until recently, smart phones were seen as useful devices but rarely seen as indispensable devices in the IT arena. Apple, the company which has been typically seen as a non-player by true blue IT staff who favor Microsoft and IBM, has been the major player to affect this change in attitude. The simplicity and rapid growth of iPhones and iPads forced the IT powers to be to recognize them as serious contenders.

This was all too evident at CA World. Almost every exhibition center booth demo?d software on an iPad. During the keynotes, iPads were used on stage to collect audience tweets to speakers. Almost every session spoke of the role that smart phones and tablet devices are playing in today?s IT environment. The simplicity and versatility of the devices can no longer be ignored.

This got me thinking about how data professionals could leverage these devices in their work. Since it is Christmas time, I thought I would spend some time dreaming of what data modeling in this new technology world would look from a dreamer?s perspective. Here are some of my thoughts.

Tablet Based Data Modeling

Tablets are portable and a natural for use in meetings, small group discussions and one-on-one sessions. I can envision a time when a tablet version of ERwin captures data requirements in a design session. The ERwin app would allow the mobile data modeler to drag and drop objects, expand or compress the view, and allow the entry of entity and attribute details with a tap on the screen.

It would be a departure from the current ERwin desktop where the modeler tends to want every possible menu and menu item on their display space. The tablet display would be cleaner and allow menus to fly in and out with a tap on the screen. Its strength would be immediate feedback to the design team in a graphical manner.

Smart Phone Based Data Modeling

I would envision the same mobile ERwin app running on a smart phone. With a smaller display, it would be less ideal for group modeling exercises. It would provide the data modeler with a tool to maintain data model objects anywhere. Most people have a smart phone in their pocket. The same can not be said for a laptop or tablet. The size and mobility of a smart phone provides the data modeler with the convenience of having a modeling tool in their pocket. As an iPhone owner, I am pretty good at entering text and navigating through apps on the phone. I suspect that this ease of entry would translate well to data modeling using an ERwin app.

Meeting Data Professionals? expectations

What would drive such a move of data modeling to an iPhone or iPad? It would most likely be the expectations of the data professionals. These devices are becoming the platform for an ever expanding list of applications that were formerly mainframe, server or laptop based. As more apps move to mobile devices, the louder the user voice will be to migrate other apps they use to the devices.

Ease of use, portability, and easier access is becoming the norm for most people today. Gone are the days when people patiently waited to have IT install an application on their desktop which then chained them to this device. The desire to consolidate computing to a single device from many is pretty strong. Technology is very close to enabling this wish.

Although I am not a futurist. I can?t predict where technology will ultimately take the data community. It?s reasonable to think that the data community will want to leverage new technology and platforms. The cloud is leading the way to provide a means to store and mange enterprise data and services. Mobile devices can capitalize on this technology and become the platform to give the data community a more convenient and friendlier interface to this data and services.

I’ll go as far as saying that some movement in this direction is inevitable in the near future. How far will we go and how fast will we go in up for debate. These end consumer data professionals will be the drivers to move software to these innovative platforms. Software vendors who are slow to respond will most likely find themselves in the dust. It?s not the case if the above will come to fruition. It is more the case when this will happen.

Tom Bilcze
Modeling Global User Community President

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