What does this have to do with designing a data warehouse, selecting reporting and analysis applications software (OLAP) and the intranet? Everything! The spectator sub-optimizes the data warehouse. Every organization must develop the reporting infrastructure to inform decision-makers, but this is just a first step. In fact, much of what is written by the proponents of data marts (independent data marts) sounds like an endorsement of sub-optimization, focusing on the needs of a few departmental spectators. I equate this approach to watching the competition not from the bleachers but rather from a knothole in the fence.
Developing an advanced information culture is strategic and demands the full attention of executive management. The most successful data warehouses, those that are generating the greatest return on investment, are part of a change in the decision-making process. The goal is to become a more formidable competitor or predator.
If success requires executive-level support, data warehouses fail for one reason. When users lose confidence in their ability to get the information that they need, lose confidence in the quality and timeliness of information available, or find performance unacceptable, the data warehousing effort will fail. A successful information culture delivers to users the confidence that comes from being well informed and empowered to make decisions.
It is the balance between fulfilling executive management's vision and providing users with the decision-making confidence that is the difficult challenge of developing a successful information culture. Importantly, information services has the ability and the responsibility to influence the information culture of the enterprise.
In the future, the PC as we know it today will look as out of place on decision-makers desks as the typewriter does today. Certainly the power users of technology will maintain their allegiance to the PC. The larger majority of users will use a wide range of hardware devices to access server-based applications and distributed databases. We are entering an era where we must provide users with a powerful information companion, rather than the next report.
About the author:
Rick Tanler has been chairman of the board of directors and senior vice president, for strategic planning and marketing at Information Advantage, Inc., since May 1995. Mr. Tanler is the founder of the company and formet president and CEO. He has served as director of services, for the business unit at Metaphor Computer Systems. He holds a B.S. in Business Quantitative Systems from Arizona State University and is the author of The Intranet Data Warehouse.