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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at wmcknight@mcknightcg.com.

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

August 2005 Archives

According to Research and Markets, the EAI market is expected to grow from $2.4B in 2004 to $8.2B in 2011.

Sun has recently completed its purchase of EAI vendor SeeBeyond. (Link)

EAI, or virtual data integration with service oriented architectures, is a natural evolution of business intelligence. It's BI without a separate instantiation of the data, as in a data warehouse.

Various trends will drive EAI over time such as the homogenization of the operational environment with ERPs and the maturation of SOA and EAI software. Current EAI capabilities do not include robust queries with performance - such as typically found today against data warehouses.

Clearly today, we need the data warehouse, even as a centerpiece of many IT environments. Let's keep an eye on the EAI tipping points however.


Posted August 30, 2005 7:06 PM
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Compliance has become a very strong area where data warehousing and business intelligence can contribute to corporate goals. Everyone in a public company, especially in the financial industry, should be aware of how worldwide agreements and regulations such as Basel II and Sarbanes-Oxley are specifically driving more stringent operational risk management.

I just completed a white paper on using DW/BI to achieve compliance and manage operational risk. It's a complimentary download available here for anyone interested.


Posted August 29, 2005 11:41 AM
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As long as business intelligence has been around, the question of Microsoft Excel's role has existed.

This report from cfo.com makes it clear that, in the BPM arena, as much as it has been tried to woo users off of Excel, that vision has not been achieved. Financials analysts continually wander back to the control that Excel gives them.

Most every BI professional who has engaged users has encountered the directive of "just give me the data and I'll pull it into Excel." I certainly have. It makes it hard to establish common functionality in modern OLAP tools for the enterprise. Many users are missing out on more functionality due to the perceived loss of Excel functionality.

I would still argue that there's a place for Excel in the BI environment. I would also argue that there's a loss of efficiency when it's the only tool in use for BI. There's no easy answer here, but there is a balance point that needs to be achieved.

A couple of the pillars we use for establishing a BI program is some top-down direction for the use of the OLAP tools for primary access. The other is giving training to users on the tools so they can feel comfortable with them.


Posted August 27, 2005 11:35 AM
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At Scott Humphrey’s Fourth Annual Pacific Northwest Business Intelligence Summit the last weekend of July, I shared a panel with Claudia Imhoff, Jill Dyche and Colin White (covered here by Claudia as well.) Between the panel and the esteemed attendees from the who’s who and the up-and-coming in business intelligence, we covered the bases of business intelligence today and looked ahead to the future. I view it as the best barometer for the BI market.

This was my third year on the panel and it was interesting to see the transformation take place in the topics over the course of those three years. Among the hottest topics we covered, which received no mention 2 years ago, were master data management (MDM) and its specialized cousin, customer data integration. I actually introduced the topic of MDM and here’s where we got to…

MDM is an industry on the upswing due to the need for that “single version of the truth” we’ve been talking about in BI circles for a while combined with the newfound importance of information in business execution. But the need for the concept is not constrained to BI – the entire enterprise needs it. MDM can either refer to a concept of management at the enterprise level (i.e., SAP) or at the distributed data warehouse level (i.e., Kalido). It depends which level you are driving for consistency at.

Many shops find they now have a distributed data warehouse by virtue of M&A or a distributed, global business environment. Rather than combine warehouses, they look to distribute (“federate”) shared dimensions. The solution here could be MDM at the warehouse level.

More common are the approaches that treat the warehouse as just another target of the master data. Indeed, data warehousing has struggled to “close the loop” and clear its cleansed data back to the operational environment. So placing the MDM earlier in the data life cycle of a corporation makes sense.

Regardless, it is the business intelligence staff who usually take the MDM charge, just like we have done for data quality, data stewardship, and other subindustries arguably operational in nature. We should be information experts first, application second.

The trend in the BI industry now is very clearly the removing of the walls constraining business intelligence to the post-operational data warehouse world.


Posted August 27, 2005 8:55 AM
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