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Business Relevance

Originally published January 21, 2010

For a long time now, IT people have been in the position of needing to show the business relevance of what they do. Too many IT people wander off into a cloud and get lost in the technology that they do with no understanding of the relevance of their job to the business. There have been a lot of guilty parties to this technology first attitude over the years. Some of the guiltiest of the parties include:

  • Data modelers, who know a lot about data but can’t tell you how the data relates to the business,

  • System programmers, who know a lot about how to tune a system but couldn’t begin to tell you how to tune the business,

  • Maintenance programmers, who can go into a program and apply a fix but have no idea how to find and fix a customer,

  • Database administrators, who know all about keeping a database up and running, but couldn’t tell you a thing about keeping an assembly line up and running, and so forth.

Now, not every technician is like this. In truth, a lot of technicians do know how their jobs relate to the business. But over the years, it has been easy for technicians to concentrate on their technology rather than on how their technology relates to the business of the corporation. Indeed, much of the loyalty of the technician has been to the technology, not to the company. If you ask a technician what he/she does, the answer comes back: "I am an SAP specialist," "I am a data warehouse designer," "I am a VB.NET programmer," and so forth. You do not hear, “I am a technician responsible for finding new customers and keeping those customers.”

Indeed, over the years, getting to know a technology really well has been the key to success, whether it be SAP, IMS or PL/SQL.

Enter the recession. The technicians of the world hardly had anything to do with causing the recession, but they are certainly affected by the recession. Many technicians are facing the imminent possibility of layoffs. And it appears that those technicians that can’t relate to how their job relates to the business are in the greatest peril. Stated differently, the closer to the business that the technician is, the less the chance the technician will be laid off.

The problem with doing technical maintenance work is that it is deadly dull. And it is a one way, dead-end street. There just is a limited future in long term technical maintenance. It is only a matter of time before two people doing a maintenance job become one person doing the job. And somebody needs to be laid off at that point. Got a coin to flip? Heads, I get laid off, tails, you get laid off. That is, of course, until the next coin toss. One of these days it is going to be your turn to get laid off.

There are, of course, always some technicians who will be needed to keep things running. There will always be a need for maintenance workers. But the most secure people in the corporation are those people who can answer these questions:

  • How does my job relate to corporate profitability?

  • How does my job relate to bringing in new customers?

  • How does my job relate to keeping old customers?

  • How does my job enhance the chances of increasing cash flow?

For the technician that can answer those questions, the chances of being laid off are minimal. Things have to get to be truly bad before anyone who can answer these questions is going to get the ax.

Which brings up an interesting point. That point is – is the recession a bad thing? If the effects of the recession are to more closely align the technician with the business of the organization, then the recession may not be so bad. (Or at least there may be a silver lining in it.) Using this line of thinking, it may be stated that the bubonic plague wasn’t so bad because it weeded out the people who weren’t genetically strong enough to withstand the ravages of a terrible disease. In other words, it is a real stretch to say that the recession is a good thing because it caused the realignment of technicians to their business. Indeed, the recession is no picnic and a lot of people got hurt; and under no circumstances is that a good thing. It is a real stretch to find a silver lining, but the truth is that there may be one.

  • Bill InmonBill Inmon

    Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.

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

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Posted January 21, 2010 by fpgcorreia@uol.com.br

At the top, we read: Poor-quality product data creates difficulties in controlling the costs of production, promoting the productivity of the company and delivering finished goods. This white paper offers practical advice on how data quality technology can be used to address these issues.

Then we read: Some of the guiltiest of the parties include data modelers, who know a lot about data but can’t tell you how the data relates to the business,

Are data modelers technicians ? What are you talking about ? Modeling Tools ? Metadata repositories ? Business are people + resources + data, organized to delivery something to someone. IT does not mattter, remember ? Data is what matters.

Do you know why ETL needs the T ? We, data modelers, do. Models built by programmers, pourly designed applications, "magic" business intelligence tools. This king is naked ...

 

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