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Barry Devlin

As one of the founders of data warehousing back in the mid-1980s, a question I increasingly ask myself over 25 years later is: Are our prior architectural and design decisions still relevant in the light of today's business needs and technological advances? I'll pose this and related questions in this blog as I see industry announcements and changes in way businesses make decisions. I'd love to hear your answers and, indeed, questions in the same vein.

About the author >

Dr. Barry Devlin is among the foremost authorities in the world on business insight and data warehousing. He was responsible for the definition of IBM's data warehouse architecture in the mid '80s and authored the first paper on the topic in the IBM Systems Journal in 1988. He is a widely respected consultant and lecturer on this and related topics, and author of the comprehensive book Data Warehouse: From Architecture to Implementation.

Barry's interest today covers the wider field of a fully integrated business, covering informational, operational and collaborative environments and, in particular, how to present the end user with an holistic experience of the business through IT. These aims, and a growing conviction that the original data warehouse architecture struggles to meet modern business needs for near real-time business intelligence (BI) and support for big data, drove Barry’s latest book, Business unIntelligence: Insight and Innovation Beyond Analytics, now available in print and eBook editions.

Barry has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years, mainly as a Distinguished Engineer for IBM in Dublin, Ireland. He is now founder and principal of 9sight Consulting, specializing in the human, organizational and IT implications and design of deep business insight solutions.

Editor's Note: Find more articles and resources in Barry's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel and blog. Be sure to visit today!

November 2009 Archives

I've been busy on the conference circuit in Europe over the past couple of months and have spoken extensively on the growing importance of social networking approach for decision makers, especially those at management and higher levels.  The response is increasingly positive.  From the nods of agreement I received in the past, I now get more anecdotes of what has happened and what was the outcome.

But anecdotes are one thing; some real research is another.  So, I've been very gratified to see the results of research carried out by the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) over the past year, which corroborated my view that social networking is going to be big for BI.  Don Bulmer's blog entry gives all the details, but there was one snippet that, in my opinion, deserves special attention.  The age profile of users of social networking tools has a double peak - one in the under-35 bracket (as would be expected) and another in the over-55s, which came as a bit of a surprise.  It seems that the older decision makers must see the benefits of social networking, not through high prior familiarity with internet tools but based on the results they achieve.  And it also poses a question - how do we get the middle of the age range (my own.... just about!) engaged?

I suspect that the answer will come down to BI vendors actively including more real social networking functionality and connectivity in their tools.  And addressing the question of how to effectively use the function more effectively within the organization (where I guess the majority of the middle(-aged) managers are focused in the decisions - from both a data and people viewpoint).  For BI tool vendors, it's still all to play for.

Posted November 19, 2009 4:56 AM
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