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I've been a good data warehouse manager, Santa

Even data warehouse managers make holiday wishlists. Expert Rick Sherman shares a letter to Santa, with data warehouse-oriented wishes, hopes and desires for the coming year.

I've written letters to Santa before, requesting gifts that only a data management type would appreciate. Maybe that's why a data warehousing manager gave me a letter this year, hoping to get it published so Santa will see it. The manager is wishing for things a lot of other data warehousing managers wish for. How many of these things are on your list?

Dear Santa,

I've been a very good data warehouse manager all year long. I've been nice to everyone -- even business users. I've kept up with the industry by reading articles and analyst opinions. I have also tried to follow all the best practices that are recommended in these articles and opinions. But I feel like the business users just don't appreciate what we are doing to get them a "single version of the truth."

Could you use your holiday magic to help out with this wish list? (Remember I was nice to the business users this year!) All I want for Christmas is:

  • A data warehousing environment that provides the business with the information they need so users won't build data shadow systems. In the past I have blamed the business people for extracting data then creating hundreds of spreadsheets to build these systems. And, of course, I blamed Microsoft (via Excel) for being the enabler. But I found out that business people really don't want to build data shadows systems and spend all their time gathering, transforming and integrating data. They'd rather IT do it! But they do so because we haven't given them the information they need or the appropriate tools to leverage that information. Then they get into meetings and everyone argues over who has the right numbers. My wish is for our data warehouse help prevent that.
  • A data governance program where business and IT groups are committed at the start of the new project and on an ongoing basis. I used to think that with the right tools we'd get our "single version of the truth" (and that's what the articles and analysts said), but I have realized that people, politics and culture matter more. There isn't any tool that is going to define all our data and performance metrics for us and then get consensus. Even with Web 2.0, SOA and Blackberries, we have to do it the old fashioned way – talk to people and get people to agree. Can you make all of these business and IT users to really commit to the project and see it through?
  • A cost-effective tool to provide business intelligence. I used to think I wanted that single "best-of-breed" tool that is in upper right corner of Gartner's Magic Quadrants. Those tools are always selected in evaluations, so I thought they were the best. But our business people tried them, yawned and then went back to Microsoft Excel. We need a solution that includes Excel and provides BI capacities for reporting and analysis that are as easy as Microsoft Office. And my finance group "suggests" that the solution has to be cost-effective, i.e. no gargantuan enterprise license deals required. Are the elves developing anything like that in the workshop?
  • A cost-effective and easy solution to distribute data from our data warehouse to data marts and OLAP cubes. While I was getting the ultimate, analyst-recommended data integration suite to perform ETL, EAI, EII, SOA, grid computing, parallel processing and everything else -- my developers went off and hand-coded all our data mart and OLAP cube loads. And our business groups loaded their data shadow systems using Microsoft Access. Please give me a simple-to-use tool that will get my developers to give up their hand-coding ways.

Thank you, Santa!

PS: I left cookies and milk Bailey's Irish Cream on the side of the fireplace.

P.S.S. Would you make sure my BI and ETL vendors don't get bought out by someone this year? I can't handle looking at another multi-year product roadmap.

About the author
Rick Sherman has more than 18 years of business intelligence and data warehousing experience, having worked on more than 50 implementations as an independent consultant and as a director/practice leader at a Big Five accounting firm. He founded Athena IT Solutions, a Stow, Mass.-based business intelligence consulting firm. Send Rick an email.


This was last published in December 2007

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