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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!

September 2005 Archives

According to an article written by John Hazzard, 45% of US IT Executives who responded to an August survey said their companies would not be ready by July 2006 to meet the message retention requirements mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) governing corporate information!

Only 29% said they would be able to meet the deadline and an amazing 26% said they did not even know if they could or couldn't meet the requirement deadline...

The deadline was extended from the original one of November 15, 2005 to July 15, 2006. What's required? Public companies (and others who might not be publicly traded but still must comply because of their industry or the businesses they work with) must be able to store and retrieve emails and instant messages. And it's not just SOX that says this. HIPAA and the Patriot Act also require message storage and retrieval mechanisms.

What is needed is more than just storage and retrieval though. To really be of use, you must also be able to archive and index IMs and emails, making storage and retrieval a snap. Otherwise, you will find yourself wasting a lot of time doing the manual effort it will take to comply -- not a good position to be in. Yes, it means spending some bucks to get your technology up to snuff but what are the alternatives here?

Fortunately, you still have time to put a solid system in place. The system must be able to log, archive and make available for review all electronic communications -- emails and IMs being the bulk of these. Failing to meet this corporate accountability deadline can mean fines for the business and -- yes -- the orange jumpsuit for the executives and officers...

Time to get crackin' on this!

Yours in BI Success,

Claudia


Posted September 30, 2005 3:17 PM
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There are several sequential and predictable steps that occur as an employee moves in the direction of leaving his or her current employer. I underscored the predictable part because it seems that some managers are so busy or clueless that they would not notice if their employees walked around with signs hanging off them stating "Hate my job -- hate my boss" or "Looking for anything better than this!"

Here are a few of these steps and why they occur...

Research uncovered these findings about how and why people "disengage" from their current company:

1. The majority of voluntary turnovers -- a whopping 63% -- are precipitated by some kind of "shocking event". Turns out these are rarely pay-related events (like no raise, no bonus, etc). The common ones for employees are realizing that the job was not as promised, replacement of current boss with a new one that they don't like, being assigned a new territory, learning that the company is doing something unethical, an incident of sexual harassment or racial discrimination, being pressured to make unreasonable family or personal sacrifices, being asked to perform menial duties not part of the original job, a disagreement with the boss, conflict with a coworker, and an unexpectedly low performance rating...

2. About 20% of departing employees leave WITHOUT having another job in hand. That is amazing to me. I can put up with a lot to keep a paycheck coming in. They must be really unhappy to do such a desperate act.

3. Many talented employees keep an eye out for other jobs while working and decide to interview with other companies "just for practice", to create a "plan B", or to test their marketability. Guess practice makes perfect.

4. Exit interviews do not uncover the event that lead to the turnover and so rarely get to the root cause of the departure. Too bad -- that means that the problem is still occurring or will happen again and again.

So what are the signs that an employee is jumping ship? Increased absenteeism, tardiness, or other behavior that indicates withdrawal or negativity toward the company. I used to work with a guy who started parking in his boss's parking spot after he was turned down for a promotion. Looking back, I guess it was pretty obvious what he had on his mind... especially when he kept spitting in his boss' coffee when the boss wasn't looking!

Do you have any stories to share?

Yours in BI success,

Claudia


Posted September 23, 2005 7:59 AM
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Yesterday, a JetBlue airliner had to make an emergency landing in Los Angeles due to a malfunctioning nose wheel. Apparently the pilot could detect that the nose wheel was stuck sideways and would not face forward upon landing. The video of the landing is astounding but even more astounding was the fact that the pilot was able to keep the plane going straight down the runway -- never veering to one side or the other. Now that's a pilot! The passengers were scared but fortunately unhurt.

Click here to see the video (unfortunately you have to endure an ad first...)


Posted September 22, 2005 2:11 PM
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I just got back from the Teradata user conference - PARTNERS -- in not-so-sunny Orlando. The weather was not the greatest but the conference, in which 3200 attendees showed up, sure was. From an excruciatingly funny keynote address given by Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert comic strip) to numerous informative sessions to interesting conversations in between sessions with customers and employees of Teradata, it was a most enjoyable time. Here is a highlight from just one session I attended. It was given by Mohan Sawhney, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Dr. Sawhney's presentation was entitled "Synchronizing to Transform Your Business". His premise was that forecasting your business trends out 3 to 5 years is a thing of the past. He believes that a company must be able to respond to any situation and be able to detect the direction of customers, markets, even the competition, much faster. The increased velocity of data moving through organizations has forever changed the business paradigm. It is now critical to build more flexibility and efficiency into business processes and models if a company is to survive.

He uses the Darwin theory of evolution as an analogy. Most of us probably think that Darwin said only the strongest will survive. That is actually incorrect. What he theorized was that the fittest or those that are best at adapting to their environments will survive. A big difference. You don't have to be the strongest -- just the fastest to adapt to a changing environment. Transfer that idea to businesses and you get the idea that if your company is not the biggest but is more flexible and agile, then it can react faster than its bigger competitors to a moving marketplace -- eventually eclipsing and surpassing its slower moving "big brothers".

To do this, your business paradigm must change from the "Make and Sell" model of the past (think Henry Ford) to the new "Sense and Respond" one. The company must be able to sense what markets and customers really want, that is -- to understand the patterns in buying behaviors, the trends in markets, the reactions of your competitors, etc. -- so you can respond more quickly and appropriately. This is where a well engineered business intelligence environment comes into play.

The agile enterprise must be able to sense and respond quickly to opportunities and threats in its environment. How? The way to do this is to change from:

1. Sequential to synchronous information flows
2. Batch to right-time updates (the right data at the right time to make the right decision)
3. Chains to "hubs" in the company's process architecture
4. Enterprise automation to value network optimization

This last step -- value network optimization -- means recognizing that most business processes span beyond your company to include suppliers, partners and customers. Business processes, including your BI environment, must be redesigned and optimized to include the full value chain. Each link -- supplier, partner, customer, and employee -- must have be able to operate and make good decisions at the right time which means having access to the right data.

If you want to get more information on this topic and how you can begin the process of creating a value network synchronized enterprise, please read a companion paper written by Dr. Sawhney's colleagues, Ranjay Gulati from Kellogg and David Kletter from Booz Allen entitled "Shrinking Core, Expanding Periphery: The Relational Architecture of High-Performing Organizations" published in California Management Review. I highly recommend it.

Yours in BI success,

Claudia


Posted September 21, 2005 9:02 AM
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Whether it is a new project just starting or one that has been years in the making or one that has yet to be decided, CIOs everywhere have some tough issues to grapple with. VAR Business found the following five were top on the minds of most CIOs.

The top five should not be news to anyone who follows the trends in our business but here they are:

1. Security - no surprise here. There have been major security breaches in almost every industry vertical over the past year. Now that we are in the era of global, self-replicating viruses, enterprises have invested big bucks in perimeter and internal security technologies yet this issue remains high on every CIOs nightmare list. Fortunately many companies like Cisco Systems, Check Point Software, MacAfee, Microsoft and Symantec all offer complementary products that provide pretty comprehensive coverage. Unfortunately none of these vendors offer one-stop shopping though.

What the CIOs surveyed want is simplified security or a unified threat management system (new acronym alert -- UTM). Unfortunately according to the article, these "holistic security systems" do not exist today. This lack of fully integrated security systems means that enterprises still must buy and integrate best-of-breed point solutions.

Vendors take note -- the global security market is projected to grow from $20 billion this year to more than $45 billion by 2008!

2. Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) - Gartner has predicted that by 2008, most application software revenue will come from products built using a SOA. If you aren't familiar with SOA, it basically pus all of an enterprise's applications on an equal footing to they can share middleware and data more effectively through standard protocols like Web services. Vendors such as IBM, BEA and Oracle are ramping up their SOA offerings big time. If predictions are correct (big if), it is thought that SOA will ultimately affect every business and IT department.

3. Outsourcing - again this should not be a surprise to anyone paying attention to what is happening in the IT world. Outsourcing has been the good news/bad news headline for a lot of companies this year. An interesting story from the VAR Business article is what's happening at General Motors. Many of us remember 10 years ago when GM announced that it was outsourcing its IT support to its (former) subsidiary -- EDS. Well, that contract expires next June. GM will have to choose between renewing its contract, giving the work to one or more outsourcer, or bringing IT back in-house (doubtful). No one at GM is talking... but there are indications that GM may be looking at option 2 -- one or more new outsourcers. With an IT budget of $3 billion, you can bet a lot of wooing is going on there.

4. Storage - BI is undergoing a paradigm shift in terms of the volumes of data stored and analyzed. With a growing need for more and more data, storage (and backup by the way) of that data is becoming a major concern of CIOs. Companies are looking for ways to consolidate the numbers of servers, files, tape drives, etc., they sue for storage and backup. Then there is the question of where to store all those backups. Hurricane Katrina taught us all a valuable lesson about off-site storage.

5. Regulatory compliance - You knew I had to mention this one. You cannot pick up a magazine, read a newsletter, or surf a vendor's web site without running into something about compliance. Storage of data is not just for BI; enterprises in all industries must store ever-increasing amounts of data and the various regulatory requirements force companies to store and maintain that data for years. Compliance is changing the very essence of many corporations. They are now far more motivated to bring in risk management, security and corporate governance functions and applications than ever before in IT history. Gartner again predicts that 60% of US firms with less that $5 billion in assets will have aligned their corporate risk management to regulatory requirements. AMR Research weighs in with a prediction that enterprises will spend an astounding $80 billion on compliance technologies and services in the next 3 years.

Fortunately these companies are also focusing on the other critical part of compliance -- instituting the proper processes for dealing with compliance. It ain't all technology, folks...

Well, there you have what keeps CIOs up at night. I hope the vendors, service providers and employees of these beleaguered folks can help them get a good night's sleep soon!

Yours in BI success,

Claudia


Posted September 16, 2005 10:25 AM
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