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Wayne Eckerson

Welcome to Wayne's World, my blog that illuminates the latest thinking about how to deliver insights from business data and celebrates out-of-the-box thinkers and doers in the business intelligence (BI), performance management and data warehousing (DW) fields. Tune in here if you want to keep abreast of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in this dynamic industry.

About the author >

Wayne has been a thought leader in the business intelligence field since the early 1990s. He has conducted numerous research studies and is a noted speaker, blogger, and consultant. He is the author of two widely read books: Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (2005, 2010) and The Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders (2012).

Wayne is currently director of BI Leadership Research, an education and research service run by TechTarget that provides objective, vendor neutral content to business intelligence (BI) professionals worldwide. Wayne’s consulting company, BI Leader Consulting, provides strategic planning, architectural reviews, internal workshops, and long-term mentoring to both user and vendor organizations. For many years, Wayne served as director of education and research at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) where he oversaw the company’s content and training programs and chaired its BI Executive Summit. He can be reached by email at weckerson@techtarget.com.

It's never too early to start prognosticating about the year ahead. But rather than deliver another set of ho-hum predictions, I'm going to articulate new catch phrases that you will hear in 2013. Below I've concocted six catch phrases, each for a different segment of the BI market, from bleeding edge to newbie. If you've heard any of these already, let me know! Or add your own in the comments section below or send them to me at weckerson@bileadership.com.

"Hadoop is the data warehouse." You'll need to be a bleeding-edge BI aficionado to hear this one. But internet companies that have made a serious commitment to all things new and innovative (i.e. Hadoop and the cloud) are intent on moving all their data--including their master data--to Hadoop, while relegating their relational data warehouses to "data mart" status. This migration will be gradual. But as they get more comfortable running Hadoop in production, they will move the bulk of their data processing and analytic applications to Hadoop and reserve their traditional data warehouses for applications that require relational processing.

"We treat analysts as salespeople." Mature BI programs realize that you can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Analysts who concoct brilliant insights and deliver them in the form of reports, dashboards, models, or artfully drawn infographics ultimately fail if the business doesn't act on them. To succeed, analysts must have skin in the game. They must be incented not by the quality of their insights, but the impact their insights have on the business. In other words, analysts must close the deal, like a salesperson on commission. They only get credit (i.e. a bonus) if the business acts on their insights.

"Data governance is dead; long live data governance!" This is the new war cry heard in mature BI circles. Most veteran BI managers have implemented formal data governance programs that quickly died on the vine through lack of interest. As important as data governance is, they discovered that you can't legislate it. Data governance must arise out of business need. Business people won't participate in data governance programs, but they will attend meetings to ensure their pet project sees the light of day. Thus, the key to data governance is to kill it as a program and embed it into project methodologies.

"Federate to integrate." Those BI programs emerging out of infancy into adulthood run smack into a brick wall: they suddenly realize that their organization has multiple, overlapping data warehouses and data marts. And most don't have the appetite, money, or time to build an uber-data warehouse. So, after some hand wringing, they realize their only option is to federate. Thankfully, data virtualization tools have improved immensely, making it possible to build a virtual EDW of data warehouses or spawn new views of disparate data without the expense or time of physically instantiating the data in a data warehouse.

"Can I have that in the cloud?" Mid-market companies, startups, and BI newbies see the world of BI with fresh eyes untainted by the long-standing tradition of inhouse IT operations and development. They already run their sales, payroll, expense payment, and numerous other applications in the cloud and, as a result, are less daunted by cloud's alleged data security issues. In fact, these groups are leading the charge to cloud BI, just as they did for e-commerce in the late 1990s, when security also was an issue. Larger companies will also follow suit as they move new and lower-risk BI applications to the cloud.

"Self service BI requires a lot of hand holding." I pity BI newbies, there is so much to learn! So many myths to deconstruct, the biggest being the holy grail of self-service BI. Although business users say they want self-service, most really don't. Casual users, who represent 80% of your population, only want greater degrees of interactivity. Power users, on the other hand, want true authorship, and different degrees at that. And counter-intuitively, empowering power users to become proficient with BI authoring tools requires a surprising degree of hand holding, and this catches most BI newbies off guard.

Please use the comments section below to add your own catch phrase of the year, or send me your thoughts to weckerson@bileadership.com.


Posted November 21, 2012 8:53 AM
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