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Blog: Claudia Imhoff Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

So...check it out every week to see what is new and exciting in our ever changing BI world.

About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants (www.BBBT.us). You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

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


April 2005 Archives

Did you know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has one of the most sophisticated analytical environments to detect tax payer fraud? Yep, it's true according to the technology company supporting it...

Since today is tax day across America, I thought it would be appropriate to let you know what the IRS has -- just in case you thought about fudging a few of your numbers... The Research Department of the IRS has created a single integrated environment using Sybase IQ technology. Yikes!

According to the case study, this data management and analytics system was built for the IRS user community to provide fast, flexible analysis. This "Compliance data warehouse" (CDW)holds seven years worth of business and individual tax return raw data, amounting to 12 TB of input data (compressed at a 70% compression rate with IQ). Now these users can slice and dice, look for fraud, analyze trends in tax returns to their hearts' content. Pretty scary, huh?

And today they are about to get another 1.7 TB of tax information!

Sigh -- yours in BI success...


Posted April 15, 2005 8:34 AM
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Recently I spoke with Doug Laney (formerly an analyst with META Group and now CEO and Chief Research Officer of Evalubase Research) about the results of his company’s latest research results. I found the BI results particularly intriguing.

Evalubase has a very creative and different method for getting technology evaluations. The company surveys a variety of IT professionals throughout our industry continuously about their real-life experiences with solutions. They gather a multitude of hard metrics and several free-form, unstructured comments in each completed evaluation. You, the participant, can choose to evaluate any technology you like whenever you like, and answer any questions you feel qualified to do so.

Since this is an ongoing study of the IT market, you will also find an “aging” algorithm to mitigate the impact of older evaluations. Let’s face it – vendors improve or get worse over time. Therefore, to reduce the undue effects of old evaluations, recent evaluations always count more heavily in the calculation of a metric or rating.

That said – what did they find (as of April 11, 2005)?

1. ERP applications won overall approval in terms of functionality, efficiency and reliability. CRM came in second. BI came in fourth – possibly suffering from vendor hype.

2. For overall ingenuity, Siebel got top honors (though, interestingly, they were last in terms of their credibility…), followed by HP, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. SAP was ranked last in the line up.

3. In terms of overall key buying criteria for enterprise solutions, buyers were fairly consistent in ranking all criteria fairly equally – ease of integration, product performance, and functionality were slightly ahead of maintainability, cost of ownership, vendor reputation, ease of use and scalability.

4. For data management solutions, buyers are far and above interested in the performance and maintainability of these solutions. For data integration solutions, performance and functionality were top dogs with all others, except ease of use (second), distant thirds.

5. For BI solutions specifically, it seems that ease of integration is the runaway winner. Perhaps this explains the acquisition fever in our field these days with vendors scrambling to make their suite of products eventually fully integrated. Cost of ownership and performance were nearby seconds with ease of use, functionality, maintainability, scalability, and vendor reputation running a distant third.

Interesting, don’t you think? All the noise we hear about BI functionality, maintainability, and even scalability don't appear to be as important to the folks buying these products as the vendors think they are. Looks like Evalubase may serve a very important purpose in getting to the real requirements of our marketplace.

If you are interested in putting your two cents worth into their survey, all you need to do is register at their site.

As always -- Yours in BI success,


Posted April 13, 2005 8:21 AM
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I read an interesting article in the Business Intelligence Pipeline Newsletter recently asking which was the more difficult challenge - assuring data quality or integrating data from across your organization. They have a voting booth set up so you can cast your vote for which you believe is the more difficult task. I have my own opinion as well.

I voted for assuring data quality and, at the time of my vote, it appeared that the majority of voters agreed with me. Why? In my opinion, it is because of the assuring part of the task.

Data integration seems to be a much more straightforward task with more mature technologies, methodology, and practical expertise in the data integrators. Even the definition of data integration seems to be cut and dried. (Not always but at least you have a solid standard to go from -- a single version of the truth...)

I think we are still feeling our way through what it means to assure data quality. While there certainly is useful technology to help with data quality, so much of the assurance part is still heavily dependent on the human being (in this case, usually a business person)eyeballing the cleaned up data to verify its "quality". There don't seem to be very clear, standard methodologies or processes to follow either. And what are the metrics of quality? When to we reach a state of "quality"? And what exactly does quality data even mean?

Without answers to these fundamental questions, it seems to me that we will continue to struggle with this challenge more so than with that faced by data integrators.

Your thoughts?

Yours in BI success,


Posted April 11, 2005 1:03 PM
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Picture it -- San Diego, 70+ degree days, balmy nights, and some of the best BI discussions around. That was DCI's Business Intelligence conference this week. I was fortunate to be invited to speak and also came away with a few gems.

The conference was a three day event starting on Tuesday and covered a wide array of BI topics for the newbie team member as well as the experienced practitioner. There was even a light-hearted keynote by a plane jumper (parachute and all...). Jonathan Wu of Knightsbridge (feel better, Jonathan) and Barbara Gavin of DCI put together a solid line up including Bill Inmon, who spoke on the need for and difficulties with unstructured data, Colin White, speaking about the need to understand right time as opposed to real time data needs, and many others.

My own talk was in the last time slot on Thursday - clean up batter! I figured the audience would be cooked by then but they rallied around and we had a great discussion on the need to incorporate BI applications into the overall workflow of the business. Thanks to all of you that hung in there with me.

Hopefully I will see you at the next conference.

Yours in BI success!


Posted April 8, 2005 4:59 PM
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I just read an interesting article in April's CEO Magazine entitled "Fixing America's Future". Apparently, our public school systems have caught the attention of concerned CEOs. More and more of them are committed to championing school reform. Why? Read on to find out.

Perhaps Bill Gates expresses their concerns best. The Microsoft cofounder said in a February speech, "When I compare our high schools with what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow."

Louis Gerstner (retired IBM CEO), Craig Barrett (CEO of Intel), Jack Welch (retired GE CEO), Chris Gabrielli (founder of GMIS) Reed Hastings (founder of Netflix), Jeanette Wagner (former Vice Chairman of Estee Lauder), and numerous other CEOS all say similar things. The reason for their interest is that these executives face increasing difficulty in trying to fill job positions with recent US high school AND college graduates. They believe unless something is done now, the problem will only get worse.

These business professionals would like to apply the very same principles that made their companies some of the best in the world -- competition, accountability, and merit pay -- to public schools. While each has a different approach to solving this dilemma (some want charter schools or increased funding for schools, others want to extend school hours or more testing, many want to put real managers in the school districts and institute merit-based pay systems, etc.), they each recognize that there is no choice but to take direct steps now to improve the quality of our educational system.

I encourage you to read the article. Any country's future is dependent on its ability to innovate, create, and basically to think. Without a quality public education available to everyone, there is no doubt that this characteristic, so critical to success, will diminish.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Yours in BI success.


Posted April 6, 2005 4:22 PM
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