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Blog: Jill Dyché Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

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!

February 2007 Archives

In which Jill reminisces about one of her favorite events in one of her favorite cities with some of her favorite people.

The Data Warehousing Institute always draws a respectable crowd, both in terms of numbers and in terms of quality of the attendees. But the Vegas event is always more fun. Vendors debut new releases, faculty members deliver their workshops with a little more flourish, and the hospitality suites are extra-extravagant. A few of last week's highlights:

1: Well, this might be considered a low-light, but it took me an hour and a half to get from the airport to the hotel. Thankfully I was "stuck" in the shuttle bus with Phil Russom, Research Director from TDWI, and Geoff McDonald from Hyperion, both of whom had some words of wisdom that I wouldn't have caught in the usual 10-minute cab ride. Talk about a silver lining!

2: Tracy Austin, former CIO of Mandalay Resort Group and current IT Governance expert, did her usual disarming and informed job representing the trials and travails of governance-and, by extension, IT-business alignment. Tracy is a smart and engaging presenter, and her material made it clear that she'd walked the governance walk, both at Mandalay and at her former company, Harrah's Entertainment. Tracy was enviably fresh, her commute to the conference involving the usual Strip traffic from her home near Red Rock.

3: Mark Madsen's ETL bake-off was well-done. There was an obvious shift in the audience, who came to see not what the vendors thought about ETL, but what they'd done. The bake-off reflected the Zeitgeist of the conference: more people are engaged in what works in the real world.

4: The TDWI Executive Summit was a hit. Attendees of the Executive Summit, sometimes an impatient bunch awaiting the punch line, were this time engaged in healthy discussion and debate. For a primarily data warehousing crowd, the understanding of Master Data Management and CDI was robust and fresh. The questions, during my presentation and at the subsequent luncheon, were legitimately business-focused. This group of managers clamored for the "hows" as well as the "whats"-clearly invested in propelling their companies forward. Wayne Eckerson did his usual stellar job of chairing the summit.

Baseline had 12 people at the Vegas conference and-between the Sunday night welcome reception, the sessions, and the, uh, cocktails, we were moving around faster than a bunch of long-tailed cats in a rocking chair factory. (Sorry.) The R&R came on Wednesday night, when we accompanied some good friends to the Cirque du Soleil show, Ka. Usually at TDWI Vegas, you'll find the vendors twirling and spinning, but last week, the circus was elsewhere. Congrats again to TDWI for a first-rate event!

Posted February 27, 2007 12:01 AM
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In which Jill muses that--in the war on bad data--reluctant soldiers can either hunker down, or arm themselves with the tools to fix their data, and bolster their companies' competitive readiness in the bargain.

In Joseph Heller's classic American novel Catch-22, a character named Dunbar spends his days lying on a cot musing on his own state of boredom. Dunbar's theory goes that the more bored a person is, the slower time passes, effectively making life seem longer. The obvious irony here is: who wants to lead a long-but-boring life?

(Coincidentally, this is a question I usually ask aloud right before ordering the cheesecake.)

We could ask ourselves a version of that question when it comes to using customer data. Who wants to settle for summary data, missing information, or inaccurate values when we could be enriching our data and, by extension, driving additional revenues? I mean, it's pretty clear by now that the better our data, the more meaningful our customer interactions. But many of us are still sitting around in a state of complacency.

As with Dunbar, our inertia has consequences. Maybe we're afraid to make the pitch for better data to executives with other things on their minds. Fussy shareholders? Crabby customers? Perturbed partners? Bet you can fix some of those issues with better data deployed faster for improved business action.

I know. It sounds like so much motherhood. But we recently watched a specialty retailer implement coupon-on-demand capabilities based on who the customer was and what she bought. The quality of the retailer's customer data was abysmal, but executives in the IT department understood they needed to deal with poor customer addresses before launching the new coupon program. We helped an international materials conglomerate waive delivery fees to the customers in the top decile. Again, they needed to clean and reconcile their data first. And a major bank is now recognizing customers at the time of interaction with its new CDI hub. Again, poor data quality was initially a barrier, but not anymore.

None of these successes was immediate. They all involved the cleansing, matching, merging, and reconciliation of customer data. It's a work in progress--but in all cases it's already driven bottom-line improvements.

So, if you're bored, don't pull a Dunbar. Consider the strategic programs on your company's radar and start talking to vendors about data cleansing and reconciliation. It may or may not be fun, but it will definitely make life more interesting.

Technorati Tags: customer data integration, master data management, customer relationship management

Posted February 17, 2007 10:06 PM
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