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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!

May 2007 Archives

In which Jill realizes that the more things change, the more they stay the same. As in, just when you think everyone knows something, someone else comes up and asks a few basic questions about it and the whole thing begins anew. Sort of like an episode of The Sopranos...

Wouldn't it be nice to begin at the beginning? Just wave a magic wand and watch those legacy systems and silos and replicated, messy data all just disappear? Then we could be really agile with our customer relationship management, unencumbered by all that crazy data. Some companies-even those who have tried to remedy their data disarray-still have fundamental questions about their businesses. Like who their customers are.

Last year I facilitated what can only be called an executive grudge match at an automobile company. The topic: Who are our customers?

Yesterday's news, you say? Move on already, say you? Nothing doing. As they had before, a handful of executives insisted that consumers-the people who bought the cars-were the customers. Other execs were ready to fall on their swords for the dealers. I'd kicked off the meeting with the simple question, "Who do you want to sell to, and who do you want to serve?" (Okay, call me Pollyanna.) And then I watched the fur fly!

It would be great to capture the results of such meetings. (That is, when there are results.) We could develop our institutional memory, recording corporate knowledge, bearing witness to the evolution of our corporate decisions and strategies. Then we could apply those decisions to our branding, creating captivating and sensory messages to connect with people in a meaningful way, as author Mark Gobé advocates in his book, Emotional Branding.

But first we need rules. Rules about what defines a customer, what defines a good customer, what defines a desirable prospect, and rules about how to treat them all when we have their attention. Not all customers are created equal. Not all brands are created equal. Not all companies are created equal either-unless, of course they decide to do exactly what their competitors are doing.

Technorati Tags: CRM, customer relationship management, customer focus, business rules


Posted May 31, 2007 7:23 AM
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In which Jill, in the tradition of Jack Kerouac himself, reminisces about a road trip to Denver. And Chicago. And Minneapolis. Except for the only stimulant this time was some really good presentations. Okay, and some Pinot Grigio.

In May's CDI/MDM Executive Summit series, our friends at DataFlux once again hoisted MDM and CDI onto the shoulders of data quality, and the result is that they all stand a bit taller.

The summit events-held in Denver, Chicago, and Minneapolis-drew a lively and diverse group of attendees. Some were practitioners, including the data architect at the retailer who confided that MDM was "her last best shot at getting my company to understand why integrated data matters." Others were business people, including the health care executive who wanted to hear about the work involved in MDM. "Everyone knows we need it," he said, "but no one understands what it's going to take from a resource perspective."

In the usual DataFlux fashion, the venues, the presentations, and the agendas were top-notch. DataFlux offered two customer case studies illustrating "on the ground" perspective of data quality and MDM.

Jignesh Shah from Intrawest explained how the resort operator captures data at each touch point-from buying a lift ticket at Snowmass to buying a timeshare in Sandestin-and matches it to uniquely identify and differentiate customers. And Jon Gerush from the American Heart Association shared his lessons learned launching corporate-wide data quality and data management. (Jon wins the prize for the best presentation title of the year: "Data Quality and CDI: If I Can Do It, So Can You"). As tight as the non-profit's purse strings are, it's clear that Gerush and his team have delivered data value quickly-not to mention building trust with the business side along the way.

DataFlux President and CEO Tony Fisher did his usual laudable job explaining the data management maturity model. You could practically see attendees mentally position their companies on Tony's continuum. Tony drove home the point that data management maturity really culminates in the ability to ensure high quality master data enables enterprise business processes.

If you missed us, there's another chance to hear the MDM message at the Data Governance Conference in San Francisco. Tony and I will be co-presenting Data Governance: From Idea to Execution, on Wednesday, June 27th. And my partner Evan Levy will be doing a post-conference tutorial called Planning and Architecting Your MDM Solution. Come and see another roster of heavy-hitters discuss why data really is a corporate asset-and how to treat it as one. Stop by and say hey!

Technorati tags: MDM, CDI, master data management, customer data integration, data governance


Posted May 28, 2007 4:07 PM
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In which Jill honors Microsoft's first ever BI event-and delivers a hearty shout out to her peeps.

Well I was wrong. I mean, I knew the Microsoft BI conference would be a first-rate affaire. In fact, I wanted to go. But I hadn't considered being a speaker. I imagined the Seattle Convention Center teeming with Access programmers and Sharepoint specialists. Maybe a couple project managers involved in DTS-to-SSIS conversions and a data miner or two. When we received the call for papers, Baseline offered up one of our IT specialists.

But Microsoft assured me that there would be a business audience. In fact, there would be an entire track dedicated to the business value of BI, which is sort of my specialty. So there I was on Tuesday afternoon presenting to crowd of 300+ Microsoft customers who were interested in Master Data Management. Microsoft and MDM. Who knew? After my talk a variety of project managers, knowledge workers, business analysts and even a few executive sponsors came up to chat. This was only one of many pleasant surprises during the 3-day conference:


  • I've heard Michael Treacy, author of The Discipline of Market Leaders, talk before. But his keynote admonishments to use BI to change the status quo seemed particularly apt.
  • Microsoft's Bill Baker, General Manager of BI and Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, moderated a lively panel of two CIOs and one CTO who were refreshingly honest about BI's place in their IT food chains. "Our biggest challenge with BI is getting around the people who control the flow of information," said a panelist as heads in the audience nodded in unison.
  • Microsoft engineer Donald Farmer introduced SQL Server data mining add-ins. Donald had an auditorium-sized space but he was the only one surprised at the standing room-only turnout of both business users and technologists eagerly anticipating predictive analytics embedded right into Excel.
  • Our friend Jim Walch provided a clear lens into Microsoft's BI Competency Center. Jim painted the picture of the organization's mission and even had a custom Sharepoint demo at the ready. But it was particularly intriguing to hear how Microsoft's BI Competency Center plans on leveraging MDM. "This is non-trival work," Walch said of Microsoft's MDM architecture, "and it is core to our BI strategy."
  • The surprise wasn't that the vendor exhibits were plentiful (echoing the conference's"ubiquitous BI" idiom) but that there were lots of vendors I didn't know. This proves not only that BI is hot but the market is being represented across the spectrum of infrastructure and tools, large companies and small and, yes, business people and practitioners.


Microsoft refuses to underestimate its customers, and we were all the better for it last week in Seattle. The company is clearly positioned for enterprise and non-enterprise class BI. I'd like to thank Alex Payne, Angie O'Hara, and Kirk Haselden for their support, and congratulate them on the first of many stellar BI conferences!

Technorati Tags: Microsoft BI, ubiquitous BI, Microsoft MDM


Posted May 13, 2007 6:51 PM
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In which Jill takes another holiday from MDM and data governance--at her blog readers' request--and serves up more personal dish. (Caveat emptor!)

So, that’s the kind of crowd I’m rolling with here on BI Network.

I’m not sure whether to be flattered or depressed by the reaction to my April 1 blog entry that featured some personal factoids. Many of you took the liberty to share your own opinions about 80s rock, Paris hot spots, and Monty Python.

But I ask you this: Where were you all when I wrote about imperiled data stewards? Or MDM vs. ODS? Or unexpected BI "gotchas?" I get the picture. You're a fickle, easily-entertained bunch. So you asked for it: some responses to the comments from that blog:

Craig G: Of course I remember you! We sweat blood together at that Big Retailer in 1997. You worked for that CRM exec who spent most of his time on internal politics—the irony of which was lost on neither of us. Reading between the lines of your (way too modest) e-mail, it seems like you’ve been promoted several notches. Which means that at one point you’ve had that guy’s job. Nice goin’.

Shawn: Yes! Mr. Creosote is one of the most underrated characters in film history. I often think of the “One thin mint” line after eating fried chicken at Dinah’s on the way home from LAX.

Ed Z.: Linkin Park. They’re brilliant and I can’t fathom why they don’t get more airtime. I feel the same way about Ryan Phillippe and that show “Weeds” on Showtime.

O: I always regret not listening to my Better Judgment, my superego, my mother in heaven, my dog Spike in heaven—who’s probably growling at my mother—and other voices that know better, and they’re all telling me not to answer that question.

Matt B: Beside “Weeds” I love that HBO show Taxicab Confessions. It offers small slices of human color you’d never see anywhere else. And anything on Animal Planet or National Geographic channel. I TIVO “The Dog Whisperer.”

Bob: You’re a hero. I think everyone should consider adopting a homeless dog or cat from the animal shelter. We just rescued Colby, a Coonhound. We are her third owners because she has epilepsy (totally controlled by medication). Our other dog, Lu, has made a space on the duvet.

Crystal: My living room sofa. I’ve been everywhere else. Seriously, I have a pregnant friend on bedrest right now and she’s going out of her mind, but I think I could really give it a go for a few months. (Minus the end result, of course.)

Virginia, thanks for asking! Baseline’s first corporate charity was The Elephant Sanctuary in Hoenwald, Tennessee. They’re still going strong. You can log on to their web site and watch the elephants on the Ele-cam! We still believe that profit is a corporate goal but not a corporate purpose. Not sure that’s gotten us any clients—not the point—but we have a kick-ass group of employees for whom this sort of thing really matters.

TJ: Far as Paris goes, much as I love Le Relais du Parc, I usually go for the local neighborhood joints where families break bread at Sunday lunch and you can get a perfect entrecote with fries and a nice glass of Beaujolais. I used to hang out at Le Stella in the 16th, now defunct, but your best bets are the perennial Brasserie Balzar, on the Rue des Ecoles. Ditto Chez René (try the rascasse). Have a kir, watch the people, then take a stroll down the Boulevard St. Germaine. I’d be sobbing at this point except for the fact that I just left Paris. The rascasse is as good as ever.


Posted May 6, 2007 7:11 PM
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