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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!

November 2007 Archives

In which Jill describes her (often-inappropriate) dreams--one of which is that people will embrace more formalized ways of doing business. (And that means you, Steve!)

You know that dream-the one where you're running to take a final exam for a college course you never attended? And you're naked? Almost everyone I know has had that dream. Well, okay, not the naked part. That's just me. But that's for another blog.

The stress of doing something we're really not ready for is ingrained so deeply in some part of our psyche that it manifests in weird ways. We feel, uh, exposed. Not being ready is a really uncomfortable thing.

But sometimes we don't know what we don't know. Take data governance. We might be ready to begin establishing formal policies for enterprise data definition, access, and usage, and to set up an actual council to formalize the process. But we might not know it. It's akin to never having gone to class, so we don't realize how much we really do know.

For instance, we keep listening to our business users make the same complaints about inaccurate data, to the point where we've become pretty agile at manual fixes. After all, we've done it hundreds of times. On a good day, we might even have the same rules of engagement for different data problems from different business users. Of course, they're not written down anywhere and there's no automated way to register and track the fixes, but people all seem to know what to do and whom to call when they need meaningful data.

In my client work I see a single common denominator that usually indicates that it's time to formalize data governance and data management processes. The common denominator is this: an over-reliance on human relationships. Users go to Steve because Steve knows what to do to fix the data. He's pretty quick about it, too. Plus, Steve knows Todd, the owner of the operational systems, who can generate a manual data extract from the Billing system in less than ten days. If you knew the Billing system, you'd know that was fast.

The point here isn't that designing a data governance framework will solve everyone's problems, though it's an effective first step. The point is, what could Steve, Todd, and the tired but earnest business users who rely on them be doing with the time they spend discovering and fixing data problems? Maybe they could set some rules and guidelines. Maybe they could proactively profile their data and nip quality problems in the proverbial bud.

Maybe one of them could become the Data Czar and begin establishing some formal processes and rules for ongoing data hygiene. But until data governance and the accompanying data management processes are truly formalized, it's a good bet that the emperor will have no clothes.

In fact, that reminds me of a dream I had...

Technorati Tags: data governance, data governance readiness, data quality, data management

Posted November 25, 2007 2:02 PM
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In which Jill finds enlightenment in the mundane, transcendence among the rubble, and some smart people in IT lifting business to higher heights.

Helluva glamorous business, this BI and data integration consulting. I've come to expect the fruit and brie plate in my upgraded hotel suite, the Kir Royales offered by attractive and often-shirtless waiters, and those 600 thread-count feather pillows on which I drift off to a restful 9-hour slumber, only to be awakened by the personal trainer admiring the curve of my femur. And the dancing! Oh, the dancing!

As if. I'm afraid that the job is just a tad bit more quotidian and my circadian rhythms a little less hearty. These days I feel damn lucky if I even get mint on my pillow, and I sleep much better if I don't imbibe before bed. Kir Royales be damned, I actually used to enjoy a cup of tea before bed. But no more, my friend. No more.

Nevertheless there are fulfilling moments. I just found out that one of my clients just scored a Big Job at an important company after his very first BI gig taught him a ton. And another encouraging tidbit: I'm finding executives who "get data" higher up in the organizational food chain than ever. Indeed, managers are engaged in the data dialog like never before, and IT has been driving those conversations.

Congratulations to the smart IT people who don't give up. Double-congrats to those who know which hill they should die on and which hill to save for another day. As General George S. Patton once said, "Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans." Data's time has come. Data isn't just an asset, it's a business enabler, and part of every initiative we've got. It's the golden thread interwoven throughout the tapestry of our businesses.

That would be a golden thread in a 600 thread-count tapestry, just in case you were wondering. Now excuse me while I eat this mint.

Technorati tags: data as asset, data governance, data management

Posted November 18, 2007 6:08 PM
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In which Jill raises a glass to two smart companies--and to their lucky customers.

I have a soft spot in my Rolodex for Purisma. For one thing, their people are smart. Indeed when it comes to the missionary work of master data management, Purisma co-founder Bob Hagenau has been one of the industry's vocal messengers. Bob's legacy with BI firms, most noteably at Acta, which was acquired by Business Objects in 2002, earned him the right to cite the management and integration of customer master data as a major impediment to the goal of using data for strategic and operational decision making.

For another thing, their customers are smart. Dave Frieder, V.P. of IT at XO Communications, tells a great story about using Purisma to manage account and customer hierarchies, delivering a new level of clarity to the business about "who's who in the zoo,"-a phrase I first heard at Purisma.

I got to watch D&B and Purisma together in action this past September. Evan and I headlined a seminar series titled, "New Best Practices in Customer Data Integration." The seminar featured heavy-hitter case studies from Careerbuilder.com and Verizon, then D&B and Purisma strutted their respective stuff, with D&B focusing on its DUNSRight quality process-which includes sophisticated business entity matching and corporate linkages-and Purisma demo-ing its recently released and refreshingly friendly data stewardship dashboard capabilities. The "My Data for D&B Purisma Appliance" solution will likely now be bundled into D&B's end-to-end customer matching and reconciliation process. It's a great new set of tools in the D&B toolbox, particularly for mid-market D&B customers who need to perform the complex tasks of managing their master data within their own firewalls.

The benefits we've seen from the Purisma/D&B partnership are proven, and the acquisition casts established successes in a new light, as represented by Dave Frieder's story in our CDI book last year, in which he explained:

"It's a never-ending battle to reconcile and match your data. Your data might be clean today, but your company is always introducing bad data into its systems. CDI isn't a one-time thing."

Here's a toast to both D&B and Purisma for consummating their longstanding relationship. Cheers, Bob, Pete, Michael, Todd, Pat, Chris, and the rest of the family!

Technorati Tags: D&B, Purisma, data stewardship, CDI, MDM

Posted November 7, 2007 1:45 PM
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In which Jill gives long-tailed cats a bad name--and in the meantime manages to have some fun!

Usually I make some time for recreation (read, beer) at TDWI events, but at last week's TDWI conference in Orlando, I was as busy as a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory. How busy is that?

On Monday I taught my anchor class, BI from Both Sides. Attendance hovered around eighty for most of the day and the vast majority of participants had done just enough BI work to grab people's attention. My students (really, my collaborators since we all learn from one another) understood that BI is often only as successful as the last project delivered and were curious about how to sustain BI as a bona-fide business program. I hope they came away with some tactical next steps.

On Tuesday Evan and I co-taught our new class: CDI and MDM in Practice. This is a heavy-duty, daylong look at how MDM works. The requisite consultants and vendors were there, but so too were some notable firms from financial services-including four different brokerage firms, what's up with that??-a handful of health care providers; three BIG companies from "entertainment and media;" and a trucking company and airline thrown in just to keep things interesting. The common denominator was the need to operationally reconcile master data.

I broke away from the CDI and MDM class in the afternoon to speak at the Data Governance Executive Summit. Once again an interesting and eclectic crowd, and the proportion of business executives in the room was a pleasant surprise. (Who says TDWI is a victim of its brand? This company draws some heavy-hitter executives!) Kudos to Phil Russom for an awesome speaker roster.

I also got a chance to sit in on James Masuoka's class, MDM Architecture and the Vendor Landscape. James works for Baseline now but used to work for META Group, which means he's unbiased and ultra-savvy when it comes to the MDM vendor compare-and-contrast.

Some other fun stuff from last week:

  • ParAccel launched. I've mentioned ParAccel before in the context of a data warehouse appliance vendor, but the company seems to be biting off a bigger chunk of the data warehousing pie since it the product can be leveraged as either a standalone solution or as an "accelerator" to provide an existing DBMS environment with more horsepower. The company also announced an alliance with Sun, giving rival Greenplum a run for its money. Congratulations to Marketing V.P. Kim Stanick and her crew for a high-octane debut!

  • Informatica unveiled release 8.5 at the conference to great fanfare. With 8.5 Informatica is walking the data integration walk, and features like real-time changed data capture and data quality at the point-of-entry mean that Informatica's customers can cover diverse fronts in the data integration battle.

  • Our friends at Zoomix were troopers, despite the fact that their booth arrived late. The bare-bones display didn't deter interested attendees from inquiring about the company's self-learning technology--Zoomix introduced its Accelerator at the conference--that includes a knock-em-dead data steward user interface.

  • Evan and I signed copies of our CDI book, courtesy of DataFlux. We meant for the first of the two signing events to be exclusive for the participants in our workshops but someone spilled the beans and the line for complimentary copies buzzed and swirled across the exhibit hall like an electrical cord. As people waited in line, they got a chance to see the Version 8 family of data quality and data integration solutions in action via some live demos. Atta-boys all 'round to James Goodfellow, Barb Carmellini, and Brett Dorr for handling the crowd-and us.

  • TDWI Orlando was Dave Wells' swan song conference. Dave has been TDWI's Director of Education for the past five years. Time flies when you're having fun, Dave, as the poster photo of you in the kayak floating down the river makes abundantly clear. I know we'll be seeing you soon in other capacities, and we're looking forward to continuing the conversations.

I'm presenting at TDWI in Las Vegas next February, and this time they've given me a Wednesday slot in an obvious attempt to keep me from the blackjack tables on Tuesday night. Nice try, TDWI, and congratulations on another full house in Orlando!

Technorati Tags: BI From Both Sides, ParAccel, Informatica, DataFlux, CDI, MDM, Master Data Management, Data Governance

Posted November 4, 2007 7:00 PM
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