#4: Here’s a thought…

April 5, 2009
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An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

The future is now
If economic conditions improve in 2010, then the amount saved by releasing an employee may only be $50-100K by the time all the layoff costs are incurred. How can you put a price on replacing the inherent business knowledge of that staff member when you re-hire a replacement? It may take another year or two to get the replacement up-to-speed, and will not only end up costing you more, but may also impede your executives from accessing critical data in a timely fashion. The overall cost of replacing that staff member could easily be three times the costs saved by laying her off. And these easily-identified direct costs are only the beginning; the costs incurred to your culture and morale can prove even more damaging.

Don’t forget risk
It makes absolutely no sense to try to optimize performance without taking into account risk. While you’re busy trying to cut a few percentage points out of your costs using Six Sigma or Lean Management, your entire company might get wiped out by “unforeseen”


An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

The future is now
If economic conditions improve in 2010, then the amount saved by releasing an employee may only be $50-100K by the time all the layoff costs are incurred. How can you put a price on replacing the inherent business knowledge of that staff member when you re-hire a replacement? It may take another year or two to get the replacement up-to-speed, and will not only end up costing you more, but may also impede your executives from accessing critical data in a timely fashion. The overall cost of replacing that staff member could easily be three times the costs saved by laying her off. And these easily-identified direct costs are only the beginning; the costs incurred to your culture and morale can prove even more damaging.

Don’t forget risk
It makes absolutely no sense to try to optimize performance without taking into account risk. While you’re busy trying to cut a few percentage points out of your costs using Six Sigma or Lean Management, your entire company might get wiped out by “unforeseen” events.

Beware the mantra
Unsuccessful data quality projects are most often characterized by the Business meeting independently to define the requirements and IT meeting independently to write the specifications. Typically, IT then follows the all-too-common mantra of “code it, test it, implement it into production, and declare victory” that leaves the Business frustrated with the resulting “solution.” Successful data quality projects are driven by an executive management mandate for the Business and IT to forge an ongoing and iterative collaboration throughout the entire project. The Business usually owns the data and understands its meaning and use in the day to day operation of the enterprise and must partner with IT in defining the necessary data quality standards and processes.


Beyond the software
Rather than being held up as a business approach, CRM became synonymous with a collection of high-profile software packages and that’s where it has failed. Instead of focusing on the business processes and delivering the right information to the right people at the right time, CRM initiatives often limited themselves to the installation and deployment of a software package. Little thought was given to the integration or quality of the data that was needed to support the business process.

—Steve Tuck: “Are We Nearly there Yet?

The BI game: Team, Standards, Infrastructure
If you are thinking about implementing BI, what should you establish as the BI Foundation? I see three main components: Team; Standards; and Infrastructure. Critical to success is obviously executive sponsorship for the endeavor. Once you have that, you need to establish a team of individuals to support the future infrastructure and users. Formal standards include a shared corporate language, formal agreements, and service-level agreements. Your organization must formally define a corporate language of business terms, which will then be implemented as a standard within the BI environment. With the Team and Standards in place, now consider the infrastructure (technology and data), which conceptually I break into three layers: (a) the user interaction/presentation component, (b) a centralized BI repository of data and metadata, and (c) an integration mechanism.

—Doug Lautzenheiser: “Business Intelligence Foundations


Don’t let it fizzle
Like many buzz-worthy business fads, social media efforts can launch big, then fizzle. Don’t let social media become another intellectual exercise. Have a plan for adopting and rolling out a variety of social media programs, using it as a vehicle for  a deliberately planned marketing strategy. Be sure to define what success looks like. Then measure early and often.

Pay monthly? That might work
Similar to the way financing can turn one big lump sum payment into a stream of more manageable payments, vendors and partners are looking to other consumable delivery and pricing models that allow customers to use Operating Expense (OpEx) budgets versus Capital Expense (CapEx) budgets to pay for solutions. SaaS and outsourced/managed services are the best examples of this. Cloud-based services that can be paid for on a monthly basis represent a more attractive purchasing option for many companies who can’t foot the bill for a large on-premise solution up front. Service provider licensing agreements where the partner pays the vendor only for what software was used each month, could prove to be more and more popular as an option in this economy.

Those boring quadrants and waves
In our industry (DW and BI) the core group of products has remained the leader for many years. The companies have changed because of acquisitions, but the underlying products listed stay the same. The top two data integration or ETL (extract, transform and load) products and top three BI (business intelligence) toolsets are perennial winners. And because the market is mature, at least there is a core set of functionality (but there is much innovation and expansion possible), and the leaders pack has been expanding in recent years. The annual results are getting boring with “The Usual Suspects” being the leaders every year. Sort of like an award show with the same singer or actor/actress winning every year, they may be the leaders in their field, but…