Friday, January 31, 2014

The Data Warehouse is an Internal Small Business

You can force the adoption of a transaction system -- like an EMR, an email system, a time & attendance system, et al -- on end users, but you can't force the adoption of an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) or analytics system. The uptake of analytics and an EDW is largely voluntary. End users-- customers-- will turn their back on your EDW if it's not operated by pleasant people, if it's not easy to use, and if it doesn't meet the needs of those customers.

The executive sponsor and the EDW team need to have the mindset of a small business. You need to market the data content and the analytics products of the EDW. You need to assign customer service and customer account representatives. You need to educate end users about how to use data to improve their roles in the organization. You need to increase the data literacy of the organization. Imagine building a Home Depot in a community that didn't have anyone who knew how to use a hammer, saw, or screwdriver? There's a reason Home Depot provides free classes on home remodeling and repair--it generates business. If your organization doesn't know how to be data driven, you better teach them if you hope to be successful as an Enterprise Data Warehouse team. You need to have a user friendly, attractive internal web site that advertises your EDW products and services, exposes your metadata, and creates an interactive site where users of the EDW can collaborate and provide feedback to the EDW team.

One of the most common chronic diseases that detracts from the ROI of the EDW is a passive, "If you build it, they will come" attitude. Worse yet, the attitude that is driven by misplaced paranoia, territoriality and protectionism of the data in the EDW-- organizations spend the money to build an EDW then create a giant bureaucratic pain in the neck to get access and utilize the data contents.

Everything that applies to the success of a small business, applies to the success of an EDW.  If you want to be successful with analytics and an EDW in your organization, you must have a small business mentality.

Flex your entrepreneurial muscles...!

:-)

2 comments:

dougcl said...

The underlying problem as I see it is that EDW construction is largely a software development problem but it is not seen as such. In the same way that hospitals are not in the business of making automobiles, they are not software development companies. Instead of confronting this problem, the assumption is made that an EDW can simply be bought and installed (this is a very durable fantasy). This runs counter to the daily fact of custom EDW development. In fact, a small self-contained software company must be set up within the hospital to build and maintain the EDW. This includes, as you point out, front line support for customers. But it also includes a lot more. Namely, and I think most importantly, it requires experienced software development managers who understand what it takes to get reliable products out the door in a timely fashion.

dougcl said...

The underlying problem as I see it is that EDW construction is largely a software development problem but it is not seen as such. In the same way that hospitals are not in the business of making automobiles, they are not software development companies. Instead of confronting this problem, the assumption is made that an EDW can simply be bought and installed (this is a very durable fantasy). This runs counter to the daily fact of custom EDW development. In fact, a small self-contained software company must be set up within the hospital to build and maintain the EDW. This includes, as you point out, front line support for customers. But it also includes a lot more. Namely, and I think most importantly, it requires experienced software development managers who understand what it takes to get reliable products out the door in a timely fashion.

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