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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!

I got a newsletter this week stating that the US was losing its innovative edge. The author listed three reasons causing this loss and some rather startling statistics to back them up. Here is his text and my thoughts about them...

The following is an excerpt from a newsletter written by Joseph Rodenberg, Managing Partner of Rodenberg Tillman & Associates, and Benelux consultancy. I have no idea, nor does he reference where he got his numbers from so they may be suspect. Mr. Rodenberg states the reasons for a lack of US innovation are:

"1. Growth in investments in R&D outside the US and Europe. The ratio of the investments domestic/foreign for some countries currently is: US 1:3, Germany 1:2, France 1:3, UK 1:4 and the Netherlands 1:6.

2. The start again of the mergers & acquisitions mania. According to research of KPMG the year 2000 has been the top with a total of US$ 1.400 billion. In 2005 the amount has been US$ 520 billion and just in the first quarter 2006 US$ 310 billion with a decrease in estimated shareholders value of US$ 80 billion! Numerous research studies confirm again and again that two third of all mergers & acquisitions fail. Does management forget to learn from the past? Should we not become more critical to top management with improved intelligence based insights and foresights?

3. Arrogance and self complacency. One of the objectives of competitive intelligence is to fight the arrogance and complacency of management. A nice example of arrogance is the following statement: “I see no scenario whatsoever where Toyota will pass us in share” by Dieter Zetsche, CEO of DaimlerChrysler US in February 2002. At that time DaimlerChrysler had the number three position in automotive in the US. In 2006 Toyota probably will become the number one. "

Yeow -- he certainly doesn't think very highly of our innovative capabilities. I must say though, he does have a point. We must be ever vigilant and ever encouraging of the creative process. Having a teenager in a public school, I am very sensitive to the math and science skills being taught. Reading is another hot button for me. I worry that these skills are languishing with the advent of video games, and other distractions. But I will save that for another blog...

On the positive side, I see some terrific innovation in unexpected places. Microsoft and Google seem to be leading the way with some of their latest creations. Microsoft is currently working on new applications for doing searches. The company is experimenting on technology that would make it possible to take a picture of an object with a camera phone, and then use the image to do a search of a Web-based database for more information. The example they give for its usage? Take a picture of a product in a store, and then do a price-comparison search while standing in front of the product. The only cloud I see is that the technology is being investigated by the Web Search and Mining group within Microsoft Research Asia, according to a company blog. OK -- so it is not in the US; it is a Chinese facility...

Google, a long time innovative Internet search company, has upped the ante with its OneBox for Enterprise offering. The company plans to announce a new enterprise developer program, new enterprise partnerships, and new enterprise search hardware that offers secure, real-time access to corporate data stores. They call it a search appliance that will extend the all too familiar Google keyword search box to a much broader spectrum of information.

"It's not just looking through Web pages," says Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's enterprise business. "It's actually a front door to business applications."

According to the article, OneBox enables the insertion of real-time business data into search results. Think about it. This means that OneBox allows Google's enterprise hardware to search virtually all content and business data such as rapidly changing transactional data; structured data like organized information in a BI environment; or unstructured data, like Web pages or documents on a file server.

Here are a couple of examples given in the InformationWeek newsletter: "A business user could view financial data in Oracle Financials through a query entered into the Google search box. A user of Cisco's MeetingPlace Express conferencing system could access information from the conferencing system, such as contact and presence information."

The article quotes Keith Collins, CTO of SAS, saying that his company partnered with Google to help make business intelligence more accessible for customers. He believes that the search box will improve information access for business users. "It's about a simple interface that allows you to search across multiple types of information and get it all back as a collection," he says.

A word of caution -- obviously an easy to use search mechanism is part of the solution, but it is certainly not all of it. "Search doesn't help you with workflow or process," Collins stated. Right on. Nor does it solve all the onerous issues surrounding data integration and quality. You still have to lay the foundation for the Google search to use.

So -- what do you think? Are we losing our innovative edge or are we just starting another wave of creative thinking.

I hope the latter but I would like to hear from you.

Yours in BI success,


Posted May 2, 2006 9:03 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


Claudia, great subject. It hurts me to say this, but yes I do think we are losing our edge. I listened to Tom Peters give a keynote last year and this was very much part of his message. His opening 2 slides where just large neon green numbers on a neon orange background stating the number of foreign owned factories and foreign owned R&D labs opening in China every day. Went on for the next 2 hours talking about innovation and 'It's not your Fathers World'.

The 'big boys' on the block are 'inventing' as you described in your opening blog, but on a whole I think we are getting comfortable in the back seat. The 1 May edition of Buisness Week has an article title "A Red Flag in the Brain Game" discussing the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. We used to dominate this contest until the 1990s, this year it was dominated by Eastern Europe and Asia. We were not even competetive this year and last year we did not even have a school in the top 1 dozen. There are many reasons for this, education being one of them. My personal opinion is that we are just becoming to comfortable while others - who do not have such easy world's - have much more motivation to succeed.

Here is a snippet I got from ACM Technews:

Cause for Concern? Americans Are Scarce in Top Tech Contest
Wall Street Journal (05/10/06) P. B1; Gomes, Lee

Only four of the top 48 contestants in the recent TopCoder global finals in Las Vegas came from the United States, renewing concerns that Americans are falling behind their international counterparts in computer science. The United States dominated the competitions when they began in 2001, but this year Russia claimed eight of the top spots and Poland took 11, while Norway and China both took four. The Polish contestants viewed their strong showing less as a sign of superior training and education than as a testament to the significance of such a competition for a country that has so few opportunities to compete on the global stage. Programming has captured the popular imagination in Poland largely due to Tomasz Czajka, who has won more than $100,000 as a repeat TopCoder champion. Each 90-minute round of the contest had three problems, described as easy, medium, and hard. No American made the final cut of the two-day competition. The top prize of $20,000 went to the Russian Petr Mitrichev. Ken Vogel, a former TopCoder contestant, noted that the competition is not the best measure of a programmer's worth in the job market. The competition tests the ability to solve a series of contrived problems quickly, while in the real world, companies are looking for employees who can work in team settings, see the big picture, and anticipate the desires of end users. The Americans' poor showing in the contest nonetheless raises troubling questions about the anti-intellectual strain in the United States. Po-Shen Loh, one of the four American-born contestants to finish in the top 48, got a heavy heart when he watched a cartoon aimed at toddlers where the characters were making fun of the stereotypically smart one: "If this is what American kids are watching before they know any better, it can't help but affect them later on."


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