I have had a few conversations both internally and externally where we eventually turned to each other and said it is not about the technology, it is about the value to the business.
It really hiw me home last week over a beer with a client who clearly gets it (you know who you are). He is very successful, his business clients like and respect him and he lives in IT. So as we closed the conversation we inevitably talked about family and he has a fairly new baby and mine is now three – and somehow it reminded me of this great blog that I read when I was first wanting to learn about Integration into and out of a Data Warehouse "ETL, ELT, EAI, EII and E-I-E-I-O". Dan does a great job putting the tools in perspective on their current state.
I know this is a technical discussion, but it helps get the definitions of terms out of the way.
But really it comes down to why are we doing this?
- Increase Revenue
- Decrease Cost
- Shore up New or Existing Business
- Get New Customers
- Cross Sell / Up Sell
- … you add yours … the list is infinite
So we should be starting with the business requirement, question, challenge, etc. and then moving down from there. A great example of the value of the Data Warehouse Road Map is just that (see previous post).
Start with the questions the business needs to ask then work down. This will tell you the holes and the integration issues. Now we can identify the right approach to solving the problem and leverage our guiding principals. But as much as we try we always get caught talking about the technology. To the end-user it should be irrelevant a black box as long as the answer is correct, on time and helps move forward the business.
Thanks for bringing up Christensen. As anyone that follows disruptive innovation has read he and Clayton’s book “The Innovator’s Solution” is a must read. I just pulled it off the shelf and will give it a re-read.
Although it is about the business. That’s not to say the business needs to be the initiator… In Fact, If all you do is live by being “customer focused” you will miss out on many opportunities. This has been a key point to the works of Clayton Christensen. That is, that companies find it hard to invest in disruptive technology, those that have low margins and their customers don’t want…until they want them.. And then it’s too late… It doesn’t just pertain to “technology” it can be applied to any innovation…
My point? It is about the business… NOT just being responsive to the business.
I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve been involved with where the technologists lose sight of the fact that the business is driving the demand and paying for their services.
What’s the difference between a terrorist and a data modeller? You can negotiate with a terrorist.
But this also highlights one of the challenges of this BI and DW business.
Maintaining control over complexity can only be done through structure. As technologists we know, live and breath this fact of life. But how much structure is enough? How much is too much? It all comes down to a question of balance — we always have to remember to balance the businesses need for information with the cost associated with storing and managing that information in a way the business can afford.
At the same time the business needs to be aware of the future costs they will incur if the information is captured and stored in a haphazard and expedient way without regard for reuse, future growth, or a broader enterprise wide view of the business problem.
What’s the minimum we need to do to meet both agendas?