What’s this button do?

August 18, 2009
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Having left the wine business and returned to Europe, I ended up first as a supply chain manager for a leading consumer packaged goods company and then as a management consultant for one of the big global System Integrator practices. Common themes that followed me from the US were information analysis, business intelligence and the struggle to manage data.

 

In my role of supply chain manager I remember the frustration of not being able to get my hands on data, let alone being able to make any sense of it. Simple facts like inventory levels, back orders, invoice data, etc. were almost impossible to get, let alone analyse. In the end, I persuaded the local IT guy to allow me a direct OBDC connection to the ERP system so I could download the required tables and create my own Excel-based analysis. However, if the executives of this Fortune 100 company had known that read-and-write access had been granted to the Core ERP system they would have had heart failure. The fact that I am just “dangerously” IT savvy – I know what is possible and what I want from technology, but the details around how sometimes elude me – means that I am the last person you want directly accessing your .

Having left the wine business and returned to Europe, I ended up first as a supply chain manager for a leading consumer packaged goods company and then as a management consultant for one of the big global System Integrator practices. Common themes that followed me from the US were information analysis, business intelligence and the struggle to manage data. 

In my role of supply chain manager I remember the frustration of not being able to get my hands on data, let alone being able to make any sense of it. Simple facts like inventory levels, back orders, invoice data, etc. were almost impossible to get, let alone analyse. In the end, I persuaded the local IT guy to allow me a direct OBDC connection to the ERP system so I could download the required tables and create my own Excel-based analysis. However, if the executives of this Fortune 100 company had known that read-and-write access had been granted to the Core ERP system they would have had heart failure. The fact that I am just “dangerously” IT savvy – I know what is possible and what I want from technology, but the details around how sometimes elude me – means that I am the last person you want directly accessing your corporate systems. 

The Golden Rule

I suppose the golden rule is that motivated people will do whatever it takes to try and be successful. If their employer does not provide them with the tools or information that they need then they will figure out “other” ways to succeed. This is the root of most skunk works in modern business, un-official projects that add cost and complexity to the organisation and sometimes result in spectacular mistakes. I firmly believe that if people are provided with access to the data they need (and even to the data they don’t believe that they need) and some tools to make sense of them, then they will be more productive and engaged. This can only be good news for any company. How can this be achieved? I believe that my colleague Martin Willcox has outlined this very well in Clouds, virtualisation, and the data warehouse – Part 2: Canute and the Wellington Boot

Niall O’Doherty