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Jill Dyché

There you are! What took you so long? This is my blog and it's about YOU.

Yes, you. Or at least it's about your company. Or people you work with in your company. Or people at other companies that are a lot like you. Or people at other companies that you'd rather not resemble at all. Or it's about your competitors and what they're doing, and whether you're doing it better. You get the idea. There's a swarm of swamis, shrinks, and gurus out there already, but I'm just a consultant who works with lots of clients, and the dirty little secret - shhh! - is my clients share a lot of the same challenges around data management, data governance, and data integration. Many of their stories are universal, and that's where you come in.

I'm hoping you'll pour a cup of tea (if this were another Web site, it would be a tumbler of single-malt, but never mind), open the blog, read a little bit and go, "Jeez, that sounds just like me." Or not. Either way, welcome on in. It really is all about you.

About the author >

Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

December 2006 Archives

In which Jill categorizes Centers of Excellence (aka: Competency Centers) and discusses why they generate so much discussion (aka: confusion).

There's a lot of buzz about centers of excellence in data management and business intelligence circles. My company has a few services that help our clients build centers of excellence around BI, master data management, and data quality. We learned quickly that there's no such thing as one-size-fits-all, and that every company has its own pain points and priorities.

In my experience, there are four different center of excellence categories involved in data management. They are:

1.BI Competency Center: A development organization specific to the development of reporting and analytics using detailed data from a data warehouse or mart. The BI Competency Center is comprised with developers and business analysts who practice a development process that is driven by business requirements, it's incremental, and its success is measured on the use of information to support business actions. Indeed, members of the BI Competency Center are measured on conformance to business requirements.

2.Information Center of Excellence: The Information Center of Excellence manages a company's master data and is in charge of ensuring that that data is managed as a corporate asset. This means formalizing processes around ongoing data quality, data maintenance, metadata implementation and maintenance, and data requirements analysis. It's the point organization for data standardization, definition, and re-use across projects. The Information Center of excellence reports directly to the CIO and functions as a "shared service" across projects and departments.

3. Data Quality Center of Excellence: For companies with many subsidiaries, a global reach, or those for whom data can be a make-or-break proposition, a discrete Data Quality Center of Excellence makes sense. The complexity of the data standardization, cleansing, matching, and merging is so large in scope that the company has decided to centralize the responsibility of data quality. We see this as an emerging trend in the health care industry, where Enterprise Master Person Index functionality is the new mandate, as well as at companies embracing Six Sigma or similar continuous improvement philosophies.

4. Integration Center of Excellence: The Integration Center of Excellence is often confused with the Information Center of Excellence. But actually, it's even broader, encompassing application integration, project alignment, and systems as well as data. Integration Centers of Excellence concentrate much more on overall architecture concerns, acting as a group of internal consultants to various IT and business project teams. Integration Center of Excellence is comprised of specialists in the areas of service oriented architectures, APIs, systems design, and other integration solutions.

There are other possible centers of excellence, both in the business and in IT. Building them usually involves a distinct event that's caused the business some headaches. Most centers of excellence require executive education and approval. But what's most important is that they're well-scoped, staffed with experts, and measured on their results.

Technorati Tags: data management, Integration Center of Excellence, BI Competency Center, Integration Center of Excellence, Data Quality Center of Excellence


Posted December 30, 2006 8:39 AM
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In which Jill loses sleep (again) about a client conundrum--and wakes up to a new technique.

If I hear "Forty is the new thirty" one more time I'm gonna punch somebody in the nose. When I turned forty it was almost like my body flipped a switch.

To "Off."

I have to exercise longer, eat better food, and now there's something brand new: insomnia. I swear if all women over a certain age who couldn't sleep had a meeting at 2:30 a.m. we could change the world. Until then, I've been getting out my book light and reading a fascinating book called Fierce Conversations.

In her book, author Susan Scott argues that most of us wander through our lives, our relationships, and our jobs never really getting authentic with one another. She insists that our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time and provides some helpful techniques for tuning how we communicate with people in an authentic and powerful way.

I couldn't help reading the book and thinking about a fierce conversation I should be having with a brand-new client, "Joe," (I've changed the name, obviously--I'm not THAT fierce!), and it would go something like this:

Joe, I want to talk to you about the effect your decision to develop data quality in a piecemeal and homegrown way is having on your company. I've heard that the company recently had to pay a series of hefty fines because it couldn't generate a necessary report for federal regulators. I heard that it wasn't that you couldn't build the report, but that the data was so untrustworthy and fraught that executives decided they'd rather pay the fine. As an advisor, I'm concerned that this could lead back to your decision not to take corporate data seriously. And there's a great deal at stake here. The company will confront this issue again. And I care about the company's success--its reputation as a business leader could be compromised. And I care about your success, Joe, and don't want you turning into the poster boy for bad data.

I wanted to alert you to the warning signs I see: lots of programmers writing independent code to clean up and match data. Homegrown householding that's expensive to maintain. Knowledge workers who don't trust the data. I want to bring this to your attention early, Joe, the effect some of these decisions are having on your firm and its employees. Please let me in on your thought process here.

It's direct, it's engaged, and it's honest. It's not hostile and not intended to place blame. The worst that happens is Joe gets defensive, but that's unlikely. He's an open-minded guy and he'll probably want to work together on the risks and possible outcomes.

I'm actually excited by the techniques I've learned in Susan Scott's book. I think that if we could all use similar techniques we could get our executives to consider investing in data quality. I think that, sleep or no sleep, we could change the world--one data element at a time.

Technorati Tags: data quality, fierce conversation, data management


Posted December 23, 2006 8:31 AM
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In which two worlds--data quality and CRM--finally collide, and Jill relishes the soft, chewy center. (Yeah, we know, it's a mixed metaphor, but you'll get the point when you read the blog.)

Remember those old commercials where a boy on a bicycle eating a candy bar crashes into a cute girl licking her peanut butter sandwich? Bang! Then, reeling, they turn to one another and variously exclaim, "Hey, you put peanut butter in my chocolate!" and "Hey, you put chocolate in my peanut butter!" As a kid, I wondered whether bumping heads with a boy was worth the discovery of a peanut butter cup. As a grown-up, my answer is a hearty, "Yes! Especially with a glass of cold milk!"

In another fateful combination, data quality vendors are pairing up with CRM vendors to create a veritable confection of functionality. While many IT executives have paid lip service to the importance of data quality to customer-focused programs, they've been flummoxed about how to link data standardization and cleansing processes with incumbent CRM systems.

As I've written before, data quality can make or break a CRM program. Companies have invested so much in customer-focused programs like operational CRM, market research, strategic selling, and, of course, business intelligence. But the success of each of these hinges on accurate information about our customers.

The bad news is that for many CRM projects, data quality was an afterthought. Companies are learning the hard way that data quality matters. There's a clear link between poor data and suboptimal business performance. Companies that should know better nevertheless continue pitching products to customers who already have them. They send marketing mailings to the wrong addresses. They greet customers by the wrong name when they have them on the phone or welcome them in the store. Without exception, every one of my CRM clients are begging for additional data. Hefty fines for watch list and regulatory noncompliance have amplified their pleas.

Thankfully vendors have begun addressing the problem, ensuring that data quality functionality is more tightly-coupled with CRM. The recent announcement by Microsoft and Group 1 Software highlights the promise of such partnerships.

"We've seen the best CRM efforts as the ones that build data quality in up front," says Bernie Gracy, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Group 1 Software. "Group 1 considers CRM a major strategic opportunity--and so do our customers."

Microsoft's Brad Wilson agrees. In a new webcast hosted by CIO Magazine--featuring Group 1's Gracy, Wilson, and yours truly--the General Manager of CRM, describes how Microsoft is embracing data quality, and witnessing new customer wins in the process. "Companies need to spend more time investing in customers of higher value," Wilson says on the webcast. "The quality of data drives the quality of decisions you make in your business."

Studies show that the more relevant your interactions with customers the more loyal they become. And making your customer interactions relevant means leveraging each touchpoint as an opportunity not only to use information you have about the customer for competitive advantage, but also to solicit additional data from loyal customers and prospects who want to do business with you. Better data means better customer conversations. And that's a tasty combination indeed!

Technorati Tags: CRM, Business Intelligence, Data Quality


Posted December 3, 2006 8:22 PM
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