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

Jill Dych

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!

March 2007 Archives

In which Jill muses on chic--and then looks at the pictures.

The Gap, once the darling of the 16-39 year old set--never mind Wall Street retail analysts--recently announced the sudden closing of its nascent and highly-touted Forth and Towne chain. Forth and Towne had been geared to a different demographic: upscale professional women in the 35-55 year old age range who wanted a stylish spin on workplace wear.

It was, as the marketing crowed, "...a new way of shopping, inspired by a new kind of woman." Indeed, the chain had taken a consumer segment--working women who wanted style at the office and at the office party--and further deconstructed it into sub-segments. Each category offered clothing and accessories that were mixed and matched, so that a customer could leave the store with a complete outfit. It was a smart concept that married the principles of mass customization and personalized service with modern design. The stores themselves were built around these categories, projecting an ambiance of beautiful, savvy, and smart. There was only one problem. The clothes were ugly.

One could imagine the branding experts, market analysts, and design consultants whose input propelled the creation of The Gap's newest chain. You can almost hear the perky focus group leader egg on a group of professional women, "Chic? Edgy? Modern! Sassy!! C'mon, ladies, what else???" Meanwhile, CEO Paul Pressler leaves amid press allegations that he never understood the retail biz.

All this made me think about the difference between vision and execution. I've seen many companies where someone had a Big Idea that for one reason or another never got off the ground. Even worse are the companies who reward their people for big ideas instead of for execution. This is the "too many chiefs" phenomenon writ large and you can spot the cultural semaphores a mile away. Lots of talkers, few doers. Confusion about the definition of "success." Frequent upheaval in the ranks of mid-level managers. Death by meeting. Headcount battles galore.

At a recent visit to the Phipps shopping center in Atlanta, I noticed a newly-minted Forth and Towne store on the verge of its grand opening. Photos of working women on the move were splashed across plywood-sheathed windows, the signage heralding, "Coming this Spring!" Someone had taken a marker and inserted a word at the end: (...Not!).

Posted March 16, 2007 10:08 PM
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In which Jill drinks Guinness in Boston and brazenly addresses a large crowd the following morning with only minimal word-slurring.

The Wilshire DAMA International Symposium has come and gone and it was a content-rich and fun-filled extravaganza. In fact there was SO much meaty stuff I couldn't get to it all, but here are some of what I thought were highlights:

1) The Monday night Welcome Reception was the ballroom version of an Irish pub, complete with Irish music, a dartboard, and an authentic mirrored wood bar! Having been to the actual Guinness brewery in Dublin, I must say that the Guinness on draft held up quite nicely, as did most--but not all--of those of us who imbibed. Evan and I had to peel ourselves away from our pints long enough to sign books for attendees. Cheers to the Wilshire folks and the DataFlux team for once again turning out quite a crowd!

2) I caught the morning piece of Malcolm Chisolm's daylong "Mastering Master Data" presentation. I've decided that people's perspectives on master data management are largely informed by their incumbent expertise. The factions include data warehouse MDM people, the infrastructure MDM people, the SOA MDM people, etc. Malcolm, best known for his acclaimed data modeling talks at DAMA and elsewhere, approaches master data from the data architecture side, having clearly seen the dramas first-hand. Good thing, too, as companies are learning that a flexible, business-driven data model is one of the lynchpins of MDM success, and that data governance and management are critical components. Malcolm drove these points home with experience-based content, and did a credible job supporting the questions of an energetic and engaged audience.

3) Fernando Martinez-Campos delivered a case-study laden talk on business requirements best practices. His from-the-trenches examples showed why the business requirements process transcends facilitated sessions and data models, and should in fact leverage structured techniques and the new crop of requirements-enabling tools. Fernando's talk was held in one of the larger rooms, and it was full. The after-talk questions confirmed that the data crowd rightly sees business requirements gathering as an opportunity to cement their alignment with the business side.

4) I popped in on John Zachman and he's as effective as ever. In my opinion, Zachman doesn't get enough credit for being one of the first to call out data as a separate category. Though he didn't employ the vocabulary, he was advocating the data-as-asset principle before the rest of us piled on. "I've relied on the Zachman Framework for several years," says my friend Barbara Turner from United Health's Uniprise division. "It provides a structured, logical approach for identifying relationships. In the process of trying to make order from chaos, John's message was more relevant than ever. His enthusiasm and passion kept me on the edge of my seat!"

5) Can't vouch for the attendees, but my keynote was a personal highlight. My topic was "5 New Trends in Data Management." (For those of you who missed it, here's a nice review from TechTarget, courtesy of Hannah Smalltree.) The vast auditorium reportedly held 1000 people but it seemed like more from way up there. Data experts from companies like MetLife, Amgen, GMAC, EDS, and Allstate stuck around after the keynote to share thoughts and success stories, giving further credence to my suspicion that the data people really do get it.

If anyone deserves a pint of Guinness, it's Tony Shaw, Eric Franzon, and their solid crew from Wilshire Conferences. These guys were constantly on the go, making the entire event seamlessly organized, while chatting up attendees and collecting content ideas for upcoming events. Thanks to Wilshire and the DAMA board for giving me a forum to share some of the new trends in data management, and to all the attendees who contributed to another stellar DAMA International event!

Posted March 9, 2007 5:45 PM
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