It's the Data, Stupid: Page 2

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So here’s a simulated therapy session to help me through this conundrum:

Stupid (me): “So what does a CEO mean when he or she says: ‘I want friendly data’?”

Data therapist: “What do you think he or she wants to say? What do you think he or she means by ‘friendly’?”

Stupid: “You don’t know”?

Data therapist: “How would I know? … I just facilitate things.”

Stupid: “Do I get any lifelines”?

Data therapist: “Sure, it’s your money.”

Stupid: “OK, let me call a C-level exec … ‘C-level exec? Is that you? What do you need from me? What the hell is ‘friendly data,’ anyway?”

C-level exec: “You really are stupid. It’s so simple. Friendly data helps me make decisions. Friendly data is always there – accessible any way I want – an a Blackberry, an iPhone or a PC. Friendly data is diagnostic – it helps me understand the current state and enables me to play what-if games. Friendly data is historical and anticipatory. Friendly data keeps me out of regulatory trouble. Friendly data helps me up-sell and cross-sell. Friendly data is a window into my products, services and – especially – my customers. Friendly data is dynamic and real-time. Friendly data never sleeps. What else do you want to know?”

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Stupid: “We call that business intelligence. It’s been around for years.”

C-level exec: “Call it whatever you like. I really don’t care.”

Therapist: “This is going very well, but our time is up.”

Stupid: “Same time next week?”

Therapist: “Sure.”

Stupid: “Not you, stupid, I want to keep talking to the C-level exec. I need to become them. I need to feel their pain – and then make it go away. I might just be getting it. It really isn’t about me at all. It’s about them and what they need – and they need data.”

C-level exec: “I’ll work with you, of course, but you really have to get smarter about all this. I just saw something about on-demand BI that caught my eye. There’s always someone who will listen. I’d love it to be you, but if you can’t get by your data/metadata/information/knowledge/extraction/integration neuroses, I will move on.”

Therapist: “I can cure him.”

Stupid: “I can cure myself.”

So let’s agree to screen all of our technology initiatives through a data filter. Let’s agree to start with business processes and three business objectives. Let’s quietly invest in data architecture and infrastructure without describing ad nauseum how wonderful our master data management is. Let’s collaboratively build dashboards and marry them with mobile computing. Let’s define the end game as real-time dynamic transaction processing. Let’s pretend we’re in a company cockpit and all we have are sensors, gauges, switches and displays to fly the company. Let’s stop being stupid.

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