#18: Here’s a thought…

July 25, 2009
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An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

Less is more
We live in an era of plenty. As marketers, we need to help our companies focus and prioritize on the things that matter most to our customers. Since marketing is responsible for the “voice of the customer,” we must help steer R&D, product management, finance, operations and other corporate functions towards adding (or subtracting) features/functionality from our products and services that will actually make a competitive difference. Sometimes, less is more—especially when it comes to “choice.”

Why change fails
Research show that 70% of all change initiatives fail. Prosci’s 2007 change management benchmarking report shows that the number one obstacle cited as the reason for failed change initiatives is ineffective change sponsorship, including conflicts of interest among key stakeholders, mixed priorities, and poor alignment.

Data warehouses: going nowhere
I’ve noticed lately that data warehouse vendors are dusting off the arguments and ..


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

Less is more
We live in an era of plenty. As marketers, we need to help our companies focus and prioritize on the things that matter most to our customers. Since marketing is responsible for the “voice of the customer,” we must help steer R&D, product management, finance, operations and other corporate functions towards adding (or subtracting) features/functionality from our products and services that will actually make a competitive difference. Sometimes, less is more—especially when it comes to “choice.”

Why change fails
Research show that 70% of all change initiatives fail. Prosci’s 2007 change management benchmarking report shows that the number one obstacle cited as the reason for failed change initiatives is ineffective change sponsorship, including conflicts of interest among key stakeholders, mixed priorities, and poor alignment.

Data warehouses: going nowhere
I’ve noticed lately that data warehouse vendors are dusting off the arguments and pitches of days gone by. Don’t buy specialized hardware for your database needs! You’ll never be able to re-use the gear! One rep recently told a client, “With your data warehouse on our hardware, you can re-purpose the hardware at any time!” The truth is, while data warehouse failures were rampant a few years ago, those failures are now the exception and not the rule. Data warehouses, once installed, tend to last a while. The good ones actually add more data over time and become more entrenched among user organizations. The great ones become strategic, and business people claim not to be able to do their jobs without them. A data warehouse platform is rarely for a single use, but for a multitude of needs. Data warehouses rarely just go away.

IT spending: caution still
The BI firms, on the other hand, are almost all making a profit and are cash flow positive. These firms have been around for a while, have solid customers and proven technologies. In addition, business intelligence and data integration are the top of most IT spending priorities (although sometimes components of larger business initiatives.) As the Goldman Sachs analyst stated, the next 18 months bodes well for these stocks, but the market remains volatile and IT spending cautious for at least the remainder of the year.

Dissent: try it, you’ll like it
Here are ways to achieve ‘good’ dissent: hire someone who genuinely disagrees with the group; and hire leaders that facilitate discussion. Doesn’t sound like rocket science, so why is it so difficult? Here’s why: (a) Organizations often recruit on the basis of who will ‘fit in’ and not ‘rock the boat’. The stereotypical yes-man often emerges, perhaps unconsciously, as perfect for the job. (b) Group cohesiveness is highly valued for productivity (‘are you a team-player?’): groups who are always bickering are perceived as getting less work done. (c) Disagreement and the expression of conflicting opinions makes people uncomfortable and they try to suppress it, partly because dissent is easily misinterpreted as disrespect or even a personal attack, and dissenters are often labeled as trouble-makers and targeted for either conversion to the consensus or outright expulsion from the group.

Time for a CBIO?
BI is a weird combination of being both a specialist and generalist area. Generalist in needing to play a major role in running all aspects of the business, specialist in the techniques and technologies that are key to achieving this. Maybe the idea of a Chief Business Intelligence Officer is one whose time has come.

Let’s hear it for prunes
In recent years, prune marketers in the United States have begun marketing their product as “dried plums” in an attempt to get us to change the way we think about them. Commercials show the younger, soccer-Mom crowd eating the fruit and being surprised at its delicious flavor. It may take some time for us to change our minds about prunes. I suppose if Lady Gaga or Zac Efron would be spokespersons, prunes might have a better chance. The biggest problem in making data quality beloved by the business world is that it’s well… hard to explain. When we talk about it, we get crazy with metadata models and profiling metrics. It’s great when we’re communicating among data professionals, but that talk tends to plug-up business users.