SDMX and Trevor Fletcher have published results from their 2011 global survey.
One finding is that respondents have shifted from seeing SDMX as very useful to just useful. SDMX believes that this is normal, and due to an initial IT-hype. This amounts to a recognition that there is little rationality in the way that IT-systems initially are perceived and evaluated. What will happen in a years time? Will there be a shift from useful to not so useful?
Fletcher believes that the perception of SDMX will bounce back. But, there is no reason to rely on statistics in the individual case. “Enlightenment” may well lead to a rejection of SDMX.
Those who believe that SDMX is extremely or very useful are now a minority, 48%. In reality this means 27% of the total number, since only 58% responded. In other words, a clear minority. We should then note that there is only one negative option in the way this question was asked!
Only 35% use SDMX now. This amounts to 24% of the total, a definite minority. However, it is not clear exactly what is meant by using SDMX. Does this include trials? Why have they not instead asked if they have implemented SDMX and in what way?
In any case, those that use it or plan to use it are an seemingly overwhelming 85% (of 58%), But, this also amounts to a minority of some 46%.
It would seem that the statistical community is divided and that the SDMX enthusiasts are a minority.
The main challenges graph is difficult to interpret. That one challenge is slightly higher rated does not tell us anything about the make or break nature of the remaining challenges. Fletcher suggests that a lack of resources as a main challenge is a result of the financial crisis. This could explain the response, but if there is a business case for SDMX, this should not matter. There should be a positive bottom line. This said, it is interesting to note the even distribution between several challenges. Most interesting is the combination of lack of subject matter support, lack of DSDs and MSDs, and lack of top management support. These challenges are both highly and more or less equally ranked. This would suggest that the cards are stacked against SDMX.
However, the main problem with this question is of course the sample. Who have they asked? The usual suspects? Central methods and IT-staff, that all have a vested interest and no practical or economic responsabilities? What if they had asked top management about challenges? Or subject matter statisticians directly? That would probably result in a completely different set of answers to what the challenges really consist of. Is it bold to guess: a lack of a clear business case, an overly complex solution, and no clear benefit but possible disadvantages to operations?
Trevor Fletcher´s claim that “Challenges to implementation are mainly due to lack of resources (human & financial) – particularly after period of international financial crisis and budgetary constraint”, is in any case not supported by the survey results. That is what happens when there is – intentionally – poor survey design and no qualitative analysis.
The solution, according to SDMX? More marketing! Have we heard that before? Then a global DSD registry. Sure, but you have been working on that for five years now. What is stopping you?
When we evaluate this survey, we should remember that the main function of SDMX as a replacement for GESMES has assured it a relatively broad base from the start, especially among central banks. The fact that many NSIs use or plan to use SDMX does not really tell us anything about SDMX beyond the fact that it replaces GESMES.
Well, it gets better. Allmost half of the respondents are central banks, rather than NSOs! So, what is the NSO situation? For all we know, it could be the central banks that are propping up the statistics.
Why has Trevor Fletcher not published separate NSO statistics?
So, let us be the devil´s advocate! What do these results really say? Here is the worst case scenario. Only some 10-15% of NSOs are enthusiastic about SDMX, and they have only used SDMX for trials, so far. The result of these trials may very well be the same as for Statistics Netherlands. There is no business case, and this is reflected in subject matter resistance and top management scepticism.
For all we know, with all the money spent, SDMX will be little more than a replacement for GESMES, with central banks as the main user community.
P.S. If it is not too impertinent to ask: When will the SDMX global survey be published using SDMX technology? D.S.