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Blog: Richard Hackathorn Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

Richard Hackathorn

Welcome to my blog stream. I am focusing on the business value of low latency data, real-time business intelligence (BI), data warehouse (DW) appliances, use of virtual world technology, ethics of business intelligence and globalization of business intelligence. However, my blog entries may range widely depending on current industry events and personal life changes. So, readers beware!

Please comment on my blogs and share your opinions with the BI/DW community.

About the author >

Dr. Richard Hackathorn is founder and president of Bolder Technology, Inc. He has more than thirty years of experience in the information technology industry as a well-known industry analyst, technology innovator and international educator. He has pioneered many innovations in database management, decision support, client-server computing, database connectivity, associative link analysis, data warehousing, and web farming. Focus areas are: business value of timely data, real-time business intelligence (BI), data warehouse appliances, ethics of business intelligence and globalization of BI.

Richard has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications, presented regularly at leading industry conferences and conducted professional seminars in eighteen countries. He writes regularly for the BeyeNETWORK.com and has a channel for his blog, articles and research studies. He is a member of the IBM Gold Consultants since its inception, the Boulder BI Brain Trust and the Independent Analyst Platform.

Dr. Hackathorn has written three professional texts, entitled Enterprise Database Connectivity, Using the Data Warehouse (with William H. Inmon), and Web Farming for the Data Warehouse.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Richard's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in Overview of BI Category

As an educator, I have admired people who are able to explain complex concepts in simple, easy-to-understand ways. I still remember my freshman year at Caltech in my Feynman Physics class, trying to learning some pretty complex stuff. The cliche around Caltech was "It is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer" and then you unloaded with a pile of ugly stuff. Richard Feynman was different. With a heavy dose of curiosity, he did make that ugly stuff intuitively obvious.

I ran across another great example of explaining the complex simply. Take a look at this 3-minute video on Social Media. It is about making ice cream in a small town. However, it explains a board range of Web 2.0 dynamics at the same time. Enjoy!

Posted November 10, 2008 10:01 AM
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Tom Redman, better known as the 'Data Doc', has published a new book Data Driven: Profiting from Your Most Important Business Asset through Harvard Business Press.

In contrast to several recent books on the importance of managing with data analytics, Data Driven starts with the IT infrastructure required to maintain consistent data, then focuses on data quality from the executive perspective of the hidden costs of poor data, and finally, explores how to make better decisions through proper data management.

A nice twist is a chapter on content providers who bring packaged data to the marketplace. This is a growing segment that is applicable to every business, since every business collects data that has value to companies in its ecosystem.

There is a chapter on Social Issues, which is great in intent but weak in content. Sad...

The book ends with "what to do over the next one hundred days" advice. If managers are serious about treating data as a business asset, then this chapter lays out the essentials of what to do.

I recommend this book for business executives to orient their thinking about data as a business asset and to realize what tangible actions must be done to make that a reality in their companies. I know that these are old old themes for the IT profession. However, these fundamental themes are oldies but goodies!

Posted September 3, 2008 9:15 AM
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An article by Colin White reflects on the evolution of our BI profession from Decision Support Systems (DSS) to Data Warehousing (DW). He suggests that it is time for a new term - Decision Intelligence - that recognizes the extension of BI beyond DW. He further suggests that Decision Intelligence integrates three areas:

- Business Process Intelligence (event analytics - operational or real-time BI sans DW)
- Business Data Intelligence (strategic/tactics analytics- traditional BI)
- Business Content Intelligence (content analytics - text and other unstructured data)

Although I can argue about the details, I highly recommend Colin's article as a step in the right direction toward redefining BI. Maybe it really is DSS 2.0, as he muses.

Posted August 27, 2008 8:32 AM
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It was a pleasant surprise to receive the new book by Cindi Howson entitled Successful Business Intelligence. She has always impressed me as a thoughtful and knowledgeable professional who has contributed greatly to the BI field by living in the trenches, digging into the details, and teaching others about her experiences.

It is hard to find a comprehensive book on BI that is written without an impenetrable cloud of technical concepts. Ten years ago, successful BI depended on the expert execution of those technical concepts. However, BI has matured, increasing the importance of nontechnical factors for successful BI.

This book tracks this trend by clarifying the current success factors for successful BI projects. Oldies and goodies are covered, such as the necessity of executive support, data quality, and business-IT partnership. However, the real contribution lies in highlighting some of the new success factors, such as:

- Measuring Success: If you can not measure BI, you will not be successful. The book suggests numerous ways to measuring your BI effort.

- Role of Luck, Opportunity, Frustration and Threat: We hate to admit it, but BI projects are often successful (or not) for reasons beyond our control or even our imagination. Get over it! The book suggests ways of maximizing your success by making you aware of this dynamic.

- Agile Development: Do not build BI systems in the old traditional way. We all know this. But do we know a good alternative? The book outlines the Agile Manifesto to deliver early and continuous versions, embrace requirements changes, intensify person interactions, etc.

- Organizational Culture: Experienced BI professionals realize that some company cultures are so messed up that there is no way to have a successful BI project. Sad but true! This book suggests the essential cultural characteristics based on the research of Jim Collins.

I highly recommend this book to both BI professionals who have some experience and business executives who are new to BI. The old timers can refocus and sync with the new trends. And, the executives can focus on the real business issues, avoiding paralysis over technical details. In fact, buy several copies to pass along to your colleagues. Maybe, just maybe, this will reduce the frequency that you are asked, "Now what do you really do with this BI stuff?"

Posted December 21, 2007 12:47 PM
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Neil Raden once again rubs a raw nerve of our BI/DW industry! As a long-time proponent of Single Version of the Truth, I have seen the tangible business value of data integration that produces some type of single version of what is happening in a complex enterprise. I have preferred to call it a 'Consistent View of Business Reality'.

But, Neil is right! There is this emerging chasm that is unhealthy between the DW folks striving toward a single version the present and the BI folks striving for alternative versions of the future. Neil advocates that we strip DW of its BI credentials.

A more constructive way is to recognize the inherent conflict and turn it into a challenge for both parties. Business executives should adopt the following mantra: DW give me a consistent view of who I am. And, BI give me consistent views of who I can be.

Posted April 3, 2007 9:45 AM
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