For a significant amount of time, I believe that the following quote from Voltaire has been applicable to some of the practitioners of business intelligence and data warehousing (BI/DW):
“The perfect is the enemy of the good."
This comes from the experience that often the speed of business moves faster than many practitioners can implement BI/DW methodologies and technologies to supply value to businesses.
This is not to say that those BI/DW teams cannot match the speed of business… That would be an “excuse” for a return to the “wild, wild west” days of silo-ed data and limited value across the enterprise that created the need for enterprise data warehouses in the first place… But BI/DW teams need continually improve their skills and implementation timeframes to offer the value that their ‘customers’ demand.
TDWI – Agile Business Intelligence
Last week, I attended the TDWI conference in San Diego where the focus was on “Creating an Agile BI Environment” to provide timely value to business stakeholders. Those familiar with Agile development practices could have confused TDWI’s use of “Agile” with the specific Agile methodology ( count me among them… ).
However, the TDWI executive summit sessions, classroom content and product showcase focused more on the “nimble” aspects of providing BI/DW environments as in “rapid prototyping or multiple iterations” rather than focusing specifically on BI/DW implementations using THE Agile methodology.
“Uppercase A” Agile vs “lowercase a” agile (read nimble)
In terms of BI/DW, I view the implementation of “nimble” practices to be more important than “dotting the Is and crossing the Ts” of a specific methodology like Agile. Which brings us back to Mr Voltaire…
While this may not endear me to the fans of Agile methodology, I believe that using “nimble” frameworks as a guide is a much better practical implementation solution than following a strict process that puts more emphasis on “perfect” process than “good” results. Also, I believe that “nimble” enabling technologies can speed the implementation of BI/DW solutions to focus on delivering business value rather than worrying about technical “specifics”.
In Support of “Nimble”
During my three days at TDWI, I had the opportunity to sit down with several vendors who are focused on helping BI/DW teams with offering business value to their business stakeholder/customers. Here are those that choose to blog about:
- Corda supplies quick implementation data visualization solutions that have helped customers like AT&T, Saleforce.com and Comcast achieve quick results.
- WhereScape has a rapid implementation environment toolset has enabled Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone and First Data to develop BI/DW environments efficiently and nimbly as well as in accordance with processes/methodologies. Specifically, Wherescape had Ted Schill of CoinStar with them as a case study/customer testimonial on how to speed BI/DW implementations.
- SpatialKey takes the approach of being able to implement data visualization of geo-location information without delving into the ‘details’ of geo-coding with utility and government clients.
- 1010data brings “big data” to the cloud with SaaS offerings that provides the ease of use of a spreadsheet with the power of 10b+ row tables/record sets.
What “nimble” means to Telecom
With the speed that telecom organizations are looking to:
- Acquire customers/provision services
- Introduce / enhance products
- Analyze / improve network performance
BI/DW teams need to be working at the speed of business or find themselves replaced by ‘shadow’ IT departments or other outsourced options. This is not an “idle threat”, but rather a reality that many IT departments have failed to understand and/or recognize.
Using these new ( or at least new to BI/DW… ) “nimble” methods and technologies, telecom BI/DW organizations specifically, and IT departments in general, can focus their energies on providing business value from their BI/DW environments AND not cut corners that would limit the overall value for the sake meeting those requirements.
How do you see the use of “Agile” or “nimble” practices in telecom BI/DW?
Post your comments below or email (John.Myers@BlueBuffaloGroup.com) / twitter (@BlueBuffaloGrp) me directly.