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Ronald Damhof

I have been a BI/DW practitioner for more than 15 years. In the last few years, I have become increasingly annoyed - even frustrated - by the lack of (scientific) rigor in the field of data warehousing and business intelligence. It is not uncommon for the knowledge worker to be disillusioned by the promise of business intelligence and data warehousing because vendors and consulting organizations create their "own" frameworks, definitions, super-duper tools etc.

What the field needs is more connectedness (grounding and objectivity) to the scientific community. The scientific community needs to realize the importance of increasing their level of relevance to the practice of technology.

For the next few years, I have decided to attempt to build a solid bridge between science and technology practitioners. As a dissertation student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, I hope to discover ways to accomplish this. With this blog I hope to share some of the things I learn in my search and begin discussions on this topic within the international community.

Your feedback is important to me. Please let me know what you think. My email address is Ronald.damhof@prudenza.nl.

About the author >

Ronald Damhof is an information management practitioner with more than 15 years of international experience in the field.

His areas of focus include:

  1. Data management, including data quality, data governance and data warehousing;
  2. Enterprise architectural principles;
  3. Exploiting data to its maximum potential for decision support.
Ronald is an Information Quality Certified Professional (International Association for Information and Data Quality one of the first 20 to pass this prestigious exam), Certified Data Vault Grandmaster (only person in the world to have this level of certification), and a Certified Scrum Master. He is a strong advocate of agile and lean principles and practices (e.g., Scrum). You can reach him at +31 6 269 671 84, through his website at http://www.prudenza.nl/ or via email at ronald.damhof@prudenza.nl.

December 2012 Archives

I have always been fascinated by the true origins of modern-day phrases or trends in my domain - Information Management, data management in particular. It is like a challenge I give to myself, a puzzle waiting to be solved. Why you say? Well, Aristotle said it already:

'If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development'.

I tend to collect first the modern-day writings about it, mostly by practioners. Then I go to the on-line science libraries and browse through ACM journals, MIS Quarterly journals, European Journal of Information Systems, IBM Systems Journal, Decision Support Systems, Journal of Management Information Systems and lately the journal of Data and Information Quality Research. And I am forgetting a whole lot. But, since the field of information management is a relatively young science, I tend to eventually end up in the more or less classic science domains; psychology, mathematics, engineering, etc.. If I took it any further I would probably end up with philosophy and Theology ;-) and discover the meaning of life.... 

Being on such a quest is like opening up an unprecedented series of presents given to me by brilliant men and women. There is so much out there that can easily be applied to other domains, for example, the information management domain.

With 'Data Quality' the same applied. I started with books of Thomas Redman, aka the data doc, of course Larry English, Danette McGilvray, David Loshin, Jack Olson and also Arkady Maydanchik can not be missed. And one cannot overlook the books written by Yang Lee, Richard Wang and Leo Pipino. The majority of these books however (with the exception of Lee, Wang and Pipino), lack the scientific rigor, the kind of Design Research approach as introduced by Alan Hevner in 2004 (published in MIS Quarterly). And although this type of research is relatively young, there are many scientific based papers out there that more or less adhere to several of the Design Research pre-requisites that aim to have scientific rigor and relevance in practice.

Since 2004 many papers on data quality have been published that are really precious to me, but it just was not good enough for me. I had not reached the true origins yet, so I felt. So I broadened the scope to 'Quality' in general. Quality in a manufacturing/engineering/services context pointed me in the direction of Shewhart, Demming, Juran, Crosby, Feigenbaum, Ishikawa, and also Peter Drucker. Boy - did I enjoy the writing of these guys (sorry, they were all men).

However, I slowly digressed into various domains that opened up Pandora's box; the domain of coping with change, management theory, decision theory, group processes, system theory, system dynamics and much more. And although I studied on a university, economics, this was all new to me. 

Still not sure whether I have not being paying attention back in college or my university just sucked.

In between I entered into the field of Quality Software Management, not that odd I would say; on an abstract level one might argue that it is the sum of the above combined with software engineering and my own professional domain and the projects I undertook. Back then (and I still do) I felt that Gerald (Jerry) Weinberg seemed to have captured the soul of all these quality people combined with system theory, system dynamics, software engineering, a profound human perspective and a keen view on leadership and management (and why many current management models simply disfunction).

If anyone want to really go on a quest regarding 'agile software development'; do not bother, start by reading the books of Jerry Weinberg. You will not find the word 'agile', but you will recognize it.

These books (and he wrote a whole lot) put me on a roller-coaster (which I am still on) that included exploratory testing, self-organizing teams, leadership, Kanban/Scrum/XP, CMMI, Six Sigma, etc...

I have so many books now, so many papers, so many subjects, so many loose ends.....it is ridiculous.

And it all started with 'data quality'....

Am I done yet?

Hell no

Will I ever be done?

Hell no

Is it fun?

Hell yes

I need a second life, and a third...

Posted December 15, 2012 3:50 AM
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