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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!

June 2009 Archives





      1.   The last time I checked, the NBA All-Star teams were stocked with players from 20 or so teams.  Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Steve Nash and Dwayne Wade all play for different teams.  If a consultancy puts forward its team as the all-league all-star team, with no deficiencies whatsoever, that is a red flag.  All teams have them.  Both sides should understand this and strive for a best fit, given the realities that talent gets spread around naturally.

2.       However, consulting teams need a winning formula.  Do they know what it is?  Will that work in your environment?  For the Lakers, it was Kobe and a solid supporting cast.  For the Magic, it was Howard, Lewis, Turkoglu and a solid rotation.  Other teams put all shooters on the floor or play defense first.   

3.       I did not notice an NBA team, in an effort to save money, put the cheapest, most inexperienced player they could find on the court this season.  Heck, there are people who would pay for the glory of paying.  No, I think every team tried their best to win as many games as possible.  If your consulting team consists of 3 solid players that you are presented with, with the rest to be named later, make sure they are not filling it out with the cheapest players they can find.  Of course, that is misguided on their part as well, but sometimes you need to save the consultancies from doing the wrong thing for both of you.

4.       Scores and game clocks are not kept in the referee's head.  He does not suddenly blow the whistle and say "game over, Suns win 104-99, goodbye."  The time and the score are kept on large scoreboards for all to see throughout the game.  Do you have a scoreboard?  Does your consultancy?  It is important to know how much progress is being made throughout the game.

5.       Beyond the starting 5, NBA benches are filled with world-class athletes, many of whom get as much or more playing time as starters.  What is your consultancy's bench?  I'm not referring, necessarily, to their employees not on billing, but just what is their contingency plan in case of injury, sudden and unexpected poor performance or if a player were to leave in the middle of the game?  Is the consultancy plugged into the culture of the discipline they are engaged in?  Do they have a warm network?  Do they scout?

6.       NBA teams come to expect certain things from the places they play - things like fans, referees, locker rooms, food, transportation, hoops, lights, a marked court and basketballs to play with.  What is your consulting team expecting from you?  Software?  Hardware?  Requirements?  Access to certain individuals?  Physical space?  The ability to network their laptops?  It would be a drag to see the game try to start without a basketball or to have the lights go out in the 3rd quarter.  Clear up expectations ahead of time with your consultancy.

7.       When the Pistons show up to the American Airlines Arena in Miami, they expect the Heat to come out of the dressing room to play against.  Imagine their surprise should the Warriors come out!  Or they have to play against 6 players on the court.  Now, they have game-planned for one team (5 players at a time) and get to play an entirely different team.  This bit of surprise will not help the Pistons be successful that night.  Is there information the consultancy is not asking for that they should be in order to know what they are up against?

8.       Sure, playing basketball is fun.  However, it's also work.  Players dive after loose balls, flying into the stands if necessary, and are expected to go all out with little consequence to their body.  They need to be skilled at avoiding injury, but cannot play overly concerned with it.  There are many moments in a consulting project where it's less fun and more work.  Are you hiring a consultancy that is prepared for the potential hard work ahead?

9.       NBA teams shoot about 80 field goals per game, hitting less than half.  Actually, only a handful of players in the league hit over 50 percent of their field goals.  However, you can't score or win if you don't shoot.  The Harlem Globetrotters are entertaining when they go into their circle and keep passing the ball, but you don't see that in a real game.  Is your consultancy willing to shoot, and are you willing to let them, even though half of the shots aren't going in, or is the consultancy interested in making entertaining passes, perhaps back to you? 

10.   Finally, experience counts.  At the NBA draft last week, I was alarmed when the announcers said that some of the second round picks would not even make the NBA.  Only 60 players are drafted each year, all with eye-popping highlights from college and European leagues, and some won't make it?!  That's how tough it is.  Is your consultancy circumventing this rule and passing along the inexperienced to you?


Posted June 29, 2009 11:55 AM
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ParAccel is a columnar, MPP, TPC-H-submitted data warehouse appliance.  I received an update from ParAccel yesterday and in the wake of the public challenges at some other small firms filling some similar market needs, I was curious about their customer wins and continued development.  I'm happy to report there has been some of both.  Some of the information is embargoed, but keep an eye on them for announcements soon.


What I can say is I received a sneak peak at PADB (ParAccel Analytic database) V2.0 as well as a customer review.  Their new deal was sold by EMC, and this is, in my opinion, perhaps a forbearer of a new outlet for ParAccel as well as where EMC might participate in the large data appliance market.  EMC is a technology partner to ParAccel.


I have otherwise talked about these columnar appliances and when to use them.


PADB Version 2 innovations include SAN-Based optimizations which will find ParAccel claiming to be the fastest data processing machine in the world.


ParAccel uses a leader node, similar to Netezza, but different from Veritca and others, which initiates, coordinates, and collects results for the distributed queries and parallel load operations supported by the system.   The SAN utilization in Version 2 may further differentiate ParAccel and Vertica.  ParAccel is a one of the recent market entrants with the potential to offer "game changing".  



Posted June 18, 2009 11:33 AM
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