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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!

Recently in Predictions Category

OK, ready for five more (link to first 5) predictions for 2007? Here they are.

6. Technologies in DW/BI on the rise. Some believe Microsoft and Teradata are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they’re both poised for growth. Microsoft is making DW/BI possible for SMB and is actually scaling well for the larger accounts, while Teradata keeps innovating in the management of large data. Business Objects just covers the spectrum of BI so well. I’ll have more to say about technologies in future blog posts.
7. Linux is making the TCO argument more and more effectively.
8. XML takes baby, but progressive, steps. XML is the best means to handle non-transactional and related information. Eventually most data integration could occur by XML, but that’s years away.
9. RFID information becomes important as tagging for supply chain efficiency and meeting mandates for Wal-Mart, Target, the DoD and others takes hold in manufacturing.
10. Operational BI. BI’s not just for breakfast, or the data warehouse, anymore. The depth of analysis now occuring in the operational arena is more than just reporting. It's BI.

Technorati tags: Information Management, Microsoft, Linux, XML, Operational Business Intelligence, RFID


Posted November 8, 2006 9:28 AM
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It’s time for a look at the industry of information management and its direction with some predictions for 2007. This is going to take a few blog entries, but I’ll start with five trends.

1. Continued support of the end-user experience. Business Objects’ Intelligent Query and Encyclopedia are good examples of usability products that go well beyond the typical drag and drop interface. Without tools like the evolution of these tools, and others, in the market, users need to know what they are looking for, need training, and need to know how to navigate metadata to become effective. Many drop out of the parade too early with these requirements. What tools that want to be adopted en masse in 2008 need to do now is begin to apply search technology to the user experience. Think Google for BI.

2. Data Governance and Stewardship. Nice balances of responsibilities are finally grudgingly being formed in organizations between business side and IT side interests. Governance and Stewardship are working, with governance being the higher-level, direction-setting body and stewardship from the business being a part of the extended build team, directing transformation rules and quality efforts.

3. Master Data Management. 2007 will see the perfect storm that launches MDM efforts deeper into the ‘type A’ organization struggling with mastering customer, product, parts and other data. Realizing the data warehouse is too late in the lifecycle to be effective doing this, we will see more efforts labeled MDM take up the charge. This may come in the form of a subset of functions of a real/right-time data warehouse, but more commonly, it will be hub and EII/SOA-based architectures promoted by the burgeoning MDM software industry.

4. EII. As an enabler of virtual integration, this maligned industry will see more acceptance in 2007 as their capabilities have grown, leaving some data standing pat physically where it is, but vastly increasing its usability in cultures pursuing information leadership.

5. Offshoring information management settles in. Vendors and consultancies lick their wounds from offshored failures to figure it out. Apparently, it’s more complex and business-oriented than first thought. At some point after 2007, the drum will beat loudly again and balanced approaches may succeed where all-or-nothing approaches failed.

Technorati tags: Information Management, EII, Offshoring, Master Data Management, Data Governance, Stewardship


Posted November 3, 2006 2:10 PM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

As we start the fourth quarter, it’s time to start thinking about ’07… and predicting it. It has been said that he who lives by the crystal ball must learn to eat broken glass. So, I’m preparing for the pain, but here goes.

I’m going to start with some predictions about how we work. Usually, not always, information management professionals lead the field in terms of adopting progressive change. I think 2007 will be a year when several forces come together to really change the way the information management (IM) profession operates.

First, I’ve seen a gradual transition to a round-the-clock mentality. Those who take a 9-to-5 approach to IM roles will be disadvantaged to peers who are set up to work from home and have personal procedures for ensuring parity between home and work for their technical job abilities. Those who insist that employers pay for their broadband (or they won’t get it) will be viewed as not embracing technology in their lives and therefore, less trusted to deploy company technology. Those who expect time off when inconvenienced by work-from-home requirements will be viewed as just not getting it.

Likewise, managers who don’t embrace these changes and move away from out-of-sight, out-of-mind approaches risk being viewed the same. So, telecommuting will grow in ’07 for IM. A great non-technical skill to have is trustworthiness with this freedom.

Webconferencing has become very easy to use and, with the adoption of broadband wherever IM professionals are (work, home, hotel), its use will continue to grow to encompass most training, demonstration and even teaming for technology deliverables.

Also stemming from the broadband adoption trend is going to be more interest in the commercialization of the web. Starting with the popular websites, watching “commercials” will be our toll on the information highway before too long.

The rapid rise of information gathering techniques such as RSS and the maturation of internet search capabilities and individual file sharing services such as iTunes are meaning we are more likely to be able to have a laser focus on that which we are interested in. This will continue to feed our growing national attention deficit disorder. Full books and print media – slowing. Google the world’s content to get what you need – growing.

To this, I see IMers who are able to embrace the technology and bring highly relevant content to bear on their job requirements getting ahead.

Finally, IM continues to outsource and continues its flirtation with offshoring. More job openings will be for temporary positions. Companies are getting better at IM requirement specification AND at articulating and demanding the documentation and coaching they will need to iterate and maintain outsourced work. While I still believe IM is one of the “last to leave” to offshoring, the disillusionment with it will wax and wane for a while before settling into workable blended approaches. Be prepared.

It probably goes without saying that those who know they are in sales mode to their employer continually will experience more success. However, in ’07 IM, this is going to be more true than ever. This market is polarizing fast between tactical, interchangeable (i.e., with offshore) skill sets and relevant, strategic, hard-to-replace skills.

There you have it. I’ll have more to say on the field of IM, but this was about how we work. Embracing technology, a flexible mindset and skill growth will be essential for the information management professional in 2007.


Posted September 29, 2006 1:31 PM
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Well, the DCI Conference is over and the Around the Horn went very well. I think I started something. The format allowed me to state a few assertions about where our industry is going. Without much comment now, I present them here. If you have a comment on any, feel free to add your comment. Here they are:

There is no longer a line in the sand between operational and analytical BI. They have blurred together.

The “build it and they will come” attitude is still pervasive in DW.

The model of the BI software industry is about delivering more and more complexity making it harder to live instead of simplifying business. The BI software industry is partly to blame for the increasing complexity of business.

DW will eventually go the way of EAI. The extra data store in the picture is redundant and the market eventually drives out inefficiencies.

Companies are not taking data quality seriously enough. It’s an afterthought and is still sabotaging BI and compliance efforts.

Master Data Management is most effective in the operational world, at pre-DW levels.

Data Mart/DW Consolidation is hot now as companies realize they need an efficient EDW environment and the benefits of the enterprise consolidated view.

BI is focusing too much on the big guys. The needs of the SMB market are not being met by the BI industry.


Posted October 4, 2005 8:27 AM
Permalink | 3 Comments |


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