Working with Scott Davis and the folks at Lyzasoft over the past couple of months has given me pause to consider just how the rather controlling mindset of Data Warehousing will need to change to accommodate and encourage the more flexible approach to BI that Enterprise 2.0 implies. To this end, I've come up with the "adaptive information cycle", a model that links the center-out approach of traditional data warehousing to the edge-based, emergent prototyping that characterizes today's analytic environment.
Traditionally, IT has always seen itself as the supplier of quality data to the decision makers, extracting data from the operational environment, cleansing and consolidating it in the Data Warehouse and making it available to business analysts through data marts and similar tools. While this has undoubtedly been a good strategy, we still find numerous analysts loading up non-warehoused data and analyzing in non-standard, innovative ways. While IT has railed at the plague of "spreadmarts" that has impacted data consistency and quality, there is no doubt that, from a business viewpoint, these independent thinkers are providing worthwhile answers and innovative ideas. It's simply not on for IT to say "Quit doing that!"; we need a way to bring these activities into a more controlled environment and to link the emerging information needs and analyses back to the Data Warehouse.
The point about a controlled environment I dealt with earlier in a white paper on "playmarts", also originally developed in collaboration with Lyzasoft.
In a new white paper, available today on the Lyzasoft site, I deal with the absolutely essential linking of new insights developed by business analysts back to the Data Warehouse environment. But, can we afford to link every business analyst's uncorroborated insight back to the warehouse? Would we even want to?
Probably not, and this is where collaborative analytics comes in. By enabling and encouraging business analysts to share and reuse their work in a managed and controlled environment, we can benefit from the "wisdom of crowds" - as analysts collaborate, best practices emerge through data and function that is invented, shared and cross-checked among one-another. And what Lyza has now provided is an initial set of function to enable business analysts to collaborate in the creation of the new data sets and function the business needs.
Of course, this is only a first step on a longer journey that will involve a reappraisal of how the ubiquitous spreadsheet can be brought under control. And we'll need Microsoft to step up to that one. But Lyzasoft have made a good start on the principles and techniques needed.
Posted July 9, 2009 6:41 AM
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