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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!

June 2005 Archives

For those of us in the Denver area, we have long known about the infamous baggage handling system problems. For more than 10 years, Denver International Airport (DIA) has been trying to get its ultra-modern, $230 million computerized system to work. As one of its victims (my bag was shredded), I know I am happy to hear that United Airlines is giving up on trying to make it work.

"It never worked up to its potential" said United spokesperson, Jeff Green. I'll say. Its abilities to handle baggage are a far cry form what was hyped 11 years ago. We were promised a state-of-the-art system that was to use PCs and thousands of remote-controlled baggage carts to operate on a 21 mile long track. The carts were to carry the baggage from counter check in to sorting areas then directly to your airplane.

For many of us, United's "pulling the plug" on this deficient system has come many years too late. According to one spokesperson for a consulting company that works with troubled IT projects, " The first lesson is that the best way to build a large, complex system is to evolve it from a small systems that works."

There is a lesson here for those of you building a large and complex BI environment. Those of us who have done this for years always recommend building a working prototype before going after the full-blown production application. Let DIA's woes be a lesson for all of us.

United stated that "We're going to go back to the old way," -- that is, using manual labor to hump the bags from one place to another... Sure hope they read the tags correctly.


Posted June 14, 2005 2:58 PM
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There is a new acronym for everyone -- BPO or Business Process Outsourcing. According to Yankee Group, this is the integration of multiple business services in your enterprise with a single provider. "The whole delivery mechanism for ERP is changing" because of this trend, according to Phillip Fersht of the Yankee Group. "Suddenly ERP is no longer the core strategy of the enterprise". This spells big trouble for SAP and other large ERP vendors unless they can adapt.

The trend in outsourcing an enterprise's business processes is not new. It started years ago when companies figured out that HR management was not a core competency. Now, Fersht says, the idea is spreading to other organizational processes due to the almost instant benefits and cost savings. Yankee Group predicts that the fastest growth will occur in North America with a stellar 43% growth occurring between 2005 and 2006.

What does this means to ERP vendors like SAP? They will have to shift their business model from selling ERP packages to licensing their software to their BPO partners. So far, that is exactly what SAP is doing. They have signed up 10 partners whose licensing revenues hopefully will replace the earnings that are disappearing from the sales of their core ERP suites.

From an BI perspective, this may also free up these large vendors to focus more attention on the added value they can bring to customers from better analytics and BI applications offerings. It will be interesting to see what happens to these companies in the next 5 to 10 years.

So what are the benefits of BPO? Reduced administrative and transactional costs, transferance of management responsibilities to a third party, reduced software and hardware costs, and so on.

OK sounds good -- but a cautious note is needed here too. This is a new area. Granted a lot of the big companies like IBM, Accenture, EDS and CSC are poised to take over all of your operational processes but still, this is a mighty big leap for a lot of companies. If you are considering this, I recommend that you understand exactly what these companies are responsible for and what your company's responsibilities are. Determine which operational processes are amenable to outsourcing and which ones do still offer your company a competitive advantage. The outsourcers do not do everything well.

As in any outsourcing situation, there are a number of pitfalls as well as benefits. Your job is to mitigate the former and enhance the latter.


Posted June 9, 2005 2:16 PM
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Dave Koch was a good man. He was an even better friend. He disappeared while hiking Grouse Mountain just outside of Vancouver, BC on May 25th. After an intense search and rescue effort, his body was found today. I know I speak for many of his friends at DM Review and around the world as well as his family when I say that he was a joy to be around, a fun-loving and caring individual. I will miss him terribly.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family on this sad day.


Posted June 7, 2005 4:28 PM
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Sun announced today that it is acquiring StorageTek for $4.1 billion (all in cash) in a deal Sun hopes will restore its financial wealth. It's an enormous gamble and the last one of this size that Sun can do given its financial war chest. Is this a sound gamble?

Sun has long been trying to reestablish itself in the server business with limited success. It has also tried its hand at selling software with its well-publicized open source push. It seems strange then that the company would turn around and buy a long-established storage company but the talk on the street is that Sun believes that storage is "where it is at" -- that is, where they will be able to make their financial fortunes.

It also means that Sun wants to transform itself into a total systems company -- basically one stop shopping for all your hardware needs a la IBM. And it means that StorageTek may get the needed push to move it out of the languishing position it has been in for years.

But not everyone is cheering the deal. A Prudential analyst, Steve Fortuna, states that the deal "reduces Sun's cash hoard by 40% and does nothing to reignite revenue growth or profitability. We would rather have seen the company buy back a billion shares and fire 10,000 people". Ouch! That is some serious criticism at a time when Sun could use some positive news.

One can only hope that this acquisition fares better than several of its past ones like Cobalt Network, Tarantella and Procom. And one can only hope that the addition of StorageTek's 1000 person sales force will help the overall sales for the combined companies... I guess all that remains to be seen.


Posted June 2, 2005 3:56 PM
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In case you haven't heard, we Americans love our emails. So much so that we check them in the bathroom, in church, and even while driving... So says a new survey sponsored by one of the biggest email providers, America Online.

The article continues that the average emailer in the US has 2 or 3 email accounts and spends at lease an hour every day reading, sending and replying to emails. For 41% of the respondents, they are so hooked on email that they check their email boxes as soon as they get out of bed in the morning. I don't know about you but that is usually not the first thing I have to do in the morning!

So here is a test to see if you are addicted: See how long you can go -- hours, days, weeks? -- without checking your email box. For those surveyed, a large percentage couldn't wait 2 or 3 days without checking -- and that included even during vacations! Well, are you addicted?

Another interesting snippet in the article was that all that email has lead to regrets, Almost half of those surveyed said that they would have like to have the ability to "unsend" a message they sent by mistake. I count myself in that category.

For those of you determined to stop the addiction, here are some tips from the article:

1. Resolve NOT to check email after a certain hour of night.
2. Stop the interminable back and forth by picking up the phone and call the person.
3. Keep track of how many messages you send out in a day.
4. Go without email one day a week.

OK -- those are at least 4 steps in your 12 step program. For me, I gotta go. I have a zillion emails that came in while I was writing this...


Posted June 1, 2005 2:54 PM
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