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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!

June 2007 Archives

In which Jill wonders why Finance--itself an often plodding back office organization--has so much clout over IT funding. What if...

Over admittedly many years in the BI and data integration industry I've seen my share of pending projects stagnate in the "awaiting signature" tray. And that signature is likely to be on the desk of the person whose formal sanction and budgetary authority signals the green light for many IT projects: the Chief Financial Officer.

Sometimes the CFO understands why data needs to be integrated across silos for efficiencies, or why business intelligence needs to be expanded beyond a couple platforms and into a program, or why consultants need to be engaged for an injection of expertise. Sometimes the CFO doesn't get it and has to be educated. Sometimes the CFO sabotages the whole endeavor. This got me wondering: If we can outsource major IT projects, or the entire IT organization, why can't we outsource Finance? After all, the same logic applies:

  • Finance is a back-office operation often associated with cost overhead

  • Finance involves repeatable business processes, like accounts payable

  • Finance requires specialized-yet-often-rote skills that can be found on the open market

  • Resource needs in Finance ebb and flow seasonally (like during tax and budgeting season)

  • Decisions and reports in Finance follow well-defined methods: Is there a purchase order to support this bill? Is there a contract with this vendor?

  • Contracts with outsourcers could involve Service Level Agreements that guarantee faster turnaround than current Finance productivity rates. (For instance, getting expenses paid within a month.)

Nowadays, companies are outsourcing their legal organizations--an area involving highly specialized skills if there ever was one. Apple Corporation actually even outsources some of its consumer product development. The venerated iPod was developed outside of HQ. (They also outsource their cafeteria, but that's another issue.)

Is my tongue in my cheek? Yeah, a little. But then again, maybe it's time Finance turns the mirror toward itself.

Posted June 25, 2007 10:50 PM
Permalink | 2 Comments |

In which a disappointed Jill muses on uncreative endings, and ending uncreatively.

Re: The Sopranos finale, add me to the list of all those people who went "Whaa???" Amidst some none-too-subtle buildup, the screen went black. No resolution. No tying up loose ends with Dr. Melfi. No coming clean with Carmela. Nada-bing! Against a Journey soundtrack, no less. It was all so unsatisfying.

I'd guessed at several possible endings, but I would have bet money that Tony would be off-ed in the last 5 minutes--perhaps by a reinvigorated Uncle Junior!--and that his son A.J. (or in a bold directorial flourish, his daughter Meadow) would wind up running the business. The series' final scene would be some sort of symbolic torch-passing ritual. Instead, absent closure, viewers were left to substitute their own resolutions and create their own parallel realities.

This sort of reminds me of how we treat data. (C'mon, now! You knew I'd be delivering a wacky corollary, didn't you?) We find, extract, profile, define, transform, load, and deploy our BI data. But when the business doesn't leverage all that hard work, we wonder why. We've done all this complex manipulation according to what our constituents expect. Then there's a letdown. Kind of a datus-interruptus.

I knew a data warehouse manager once who measured his team based on the number of tables they loaded onto the data warehouse and the total net number of new rows in each table. The manager proudly circulated spreadsheets that showed the rise in data volumes on the warehouse. The database and storage vendors were pleased as punch. But the business executives asked the same questions they'd asked with other high-visibility IT programs: "What have we spent, and what are we getting?"

Reluctant to engage business users, inexperienced with business and data requirements processes, fearful of challenging source system owners, adverse to requesting funding for data profiling tools, the data warehouse manager continued the data loading binge, insisting on his own version of success. The data warehouse has recently been moved to "steady state" budget, which means no new funding. Now, even the best post-implementation spin can't save it.

Fade to black.

Technorati Tags: The Sopranos, data warehouse, business intelligence, BI funding

Posted June 17, 2007 6:43 PM
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In which Microsoft sanctions the CDI/MDM space for real.

At an MDM industry conference late last year, Microsoft executive Donald Farmer explained to an engaged audience of practitioners and Microsoft die-hards that certain components of Microsoft's SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) offered discrete features that could ultimately work as part of the MDM stack. "While Microsoft isn't specifically marketing MDM," Farmer explained, "we are indeed offering functionality that satisfies discrete MDM processing needs."

Microsoft's MDM strategy took a right turn this past week when the company announced its acquisition of Atlanta-based MDM software company Stratature.

Up until now, some IT executives have considered MDM a luxury outside of the core IT infrastructure, many marginalizing it as a mere "application" dangling at the end of the development pipeline. The Stratature purchase signals Microsoft's intention to help its customers not just manage the data in their SQL Server databases, but master the entity and relationship details necessary for sustainable data integration, rendering master data central to the company's data on demand strategy. Moreover, it indicates that Microsoft sees integration as transcending BI and supporting operational systems as well. Acquiring Stratature renders Microsoft a bona-fide player in the CDI/MDM space.

Farmer, now Principal Program Manager for SQL Server Data Mining at Microsoft, sees the Stratature acquisition as a natural extension of the existing SSIS strategy, not to mention an important component to the company's suite of BI and analytics.

"Buying Stratature has everything to do with how Microsoft sees the evolution of data from not only a reporting and BI standpoint, but from reconciliation and operational deployment angles as well," says Farmer. "This will not only enhance our SQL Server capabilities, it will provide better data to Microsoft's range of BI solutions, including Analysis and Reporting Services, helping Microsoft's customers not only improve their reports, but take their data management and stewardship capabilities even farther."

So much for MDM on the fringe.

Technorati tags: MDM, CDI, Microsoft MDM, Stratature, Microsoft BI

Posted June 10, 2007 11:15 AM
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