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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

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

November 2007 Archives

It was just a matter of time before Cognos was acquired, and IBM purchased a BI company. It's a good match for IBM because there is no overlap between the product lines. This would not have been the case if IBM had acquired acquired Business Objects.

There are not many large independents BI vendors left. SAS, Information Builders, and Microstrategy are the main ones. The first two are private companies with CEOs that want to keep it that way. SAS's new relationship with Teradata becomes more important with the IBM acquisition. Information Builders has always been happy to do its own thing and makes a good living out of it.

The acquisition is both good and bad for Microstrategy. It's good because they can say they are one of the few independent vendors left. It's bad because all of the major infrastructure and database vendors now have significant BI and data integration products. This is going to make it tough for Microstrategy in large enterprise accounts, which are its sweet spot.

As I said when SAP acquired Business Objects, for smaller enterprises and SMB customers, open source BI and new BI vendors with modern technology are becoming increasingly attractive.


Posted November 12, 2007 7:39 AM
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Master data is defined as data about the key business entities of an organization. Examples include customer, product, organizational structure, and chart of accounts. A common question about master data is, “What is the difference between master data and reference data?” Some people take the position that they are the same thing, but it can be argued that not all reference data is master data. For example, lookup and code tables that are used to encode information, such as state names and order codes, are not strictly master data tables.

The diving line between master data and reference data is not always clear cut. One solution is to break master data into two types: master reference data and master business entity data. Master reference data has well defined and simple data structures, has simple keys and governance rules, is often standardized (US state codes, for example), involves only a few applications, and is reasonably stable. Master business entity data, such as customer, on the other hand, is usually ill-defined, has complex data structures and relationships, requires compound and intelligent keys and complex governance rules, is not usually standardized, involves many business processes, and changes frequently.

Does this distinction really matter? When developing data quality management and master data management systems it can do. Cleaning and managing master reference status is a reasonable easy job. The opposite is true for master business entity data.

Any comments?


Posted November 7, 2007 9:00 AM
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