I had the great honor of presenting at the SQL Pass meeting in Winston-Salem, NC on February 28. The subject was the “Design of SSAS Solutions for ERP Data”. A sure conversation killer on a date, but pretty cool stuff for the SQL gearheads I hang out with.
The preso contents are in my SkyDrive public folder (darn SkyDrive URL’s). Let me know what you think.
Data is like the new oil. Everyone wants it, the Chinese crave it, and the press talks about nothing but it. But, who’s using it?
According to this article from CIO.com, not the guys you really want using it. In essence, it claims that the managers who pay for the IT infrastructure to create the business intelligence data don’t trust it and don’t use it. In the interest of full disclosure, Tableau is responsible for the research and they have a clear agenda to push, but their findings do match my experience so I’ll assume it to be true (because, as you, my faithful readers, know – I am a genius).
In every BI project I’ve done (and it’s a lot), I’ve found this same thing: managers don’t trust the data they pay for and make decisions off the cuff that the data doesn’t support. Why?
Here’s my thoughts:
- They can’t get at the data and the details themselves. When they can’t validate the data themselves (by seeing details or drilldowns) its easier for them to dismiss an undesirable result by making unfounded guesses about the underlying data. Examples: “Oh, that probably doesn’t include May’s results”.
- They find errors every time the look. When a business users hits a report and immediately spots an error (or, god forbid, makes a public claim about a business condition to only find later it was wrong), they will throw the entire system into doubt and stop using it.
- They’re stupid. I hear this from IT all the time. You know how many stupid people I’ve met at my clients in the last 10 years? 1. He got fired. I don’t think the users are stupid – I think they are overworked and expect us to provide good result without them functioning as QA.
How to deal with it? Outside of all the good, usual consulting practices, I think the answer is pretty simple. Let them get personally attached to the system by:
- Getting them involved early in the project through agile rollout and frequent communication.
- Give drill downs to underlying data everywhere it makes sense.
- Train them on how to get at the data themselves AND give the simple, intuitive interfaces to get their information.
- Lastly, do the hard work of validating the data when you write the load packages and create the interfaces.
The Dynamics world is changing. New partner requirements, Master VAR’s, the cloud, mobile, you name it. Somedays there’s so much angst among partners that I feel like I’m at a Twighlight convention full of teenage girls.
Well, we’re not the only ones going through an upheaval so I thought some perspective from a different industry might be in order. The book business is dominated by a few large publishers and distributors with lots of small and independent publishers. Toss agents and authors in the mix and its lots of fun. Amazon and digital publishing are disrupting this significantly, essentially blowing up a very old oligopoly.
We’re seeing some parallels with cloud computing disrupting the traditional ERP space so here are some thoughts from the book world.
J.A. Konrath is a traditionally published author who has moved very successfully into the indie space. He’s not shy and his post Amazon will destroy you seems most relevant.
Agent Rachelle Gardener has 3 new posts on the changes going on including:
Certainly all of those questions are relevant to us.
Finally, if you have trouble applying lessons from other businesses to yours, I have to wonder how you manage to help other businesses through the change of a new ERP system.