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These are my principles for successful Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence, and if you don’t like them, I have others. Musings on being led by the nose by experienced practitioners of charlatanry, deception and obfuscation.

One of my most cringe-worthy of moments in Data Warehousing is when someone who poses as a Data Warehouse professional says something along the lines of “you can do it that way as well, if you want to” or “that’s a valid alternative option” or more tellingly, “I can implement that” or “so long as I get paid, I’m happy, and will do anything you ask”, etc. when, and this is an important when, the option in question is clearly not valid from the perspective of a professional view of data warehousing. This is when a simple comment highlights the gaping abyss that exists between ethical professionalism and simply being in the game. And I see it a lot, and in connection with many other of the anecdotal stories illustrated hereabouts.

So, to cut a long story short, here is a list of things that no data warehouse or business intelligence professional should utter:

  1. You don’t need an Enterprise Data Warehouse to do data warehousing. – Clearly a Data Warehouse solution without a data warehouse database, is like a fish and seafood paella, without fish, seafood, stock, herbs or rice.
  2. Inmon and Kimball simply describe academic and theoretic approaches, they don’t do practical work. – This is true, if you do not take into account the thousands of successful data warehouse implementations, in both public and private sectors – that have followed either the Inmon or indeed Kimball approaches. But why reuse something that works, when making it up as one goes along is so much more exciting.
  3. You only need data marts. – Wrong! Building standalone data marts is a recipe for long term disaster, an administrative and maintenance nightmare, and a money pit.
  4. A data warehouse is a single source of the truth. – This is a tricky one, and one that is widely held and repeated, probably because it seems so reasonable, so attractive and so easy to remember. But, the practicality of the matter is that whilst organisations continue to have differing informational views and requirements depending on whether they are looking at legal, financial, regulatory or clients, long-term or short-term, etc. then there will always be a need to have more than a single version of the truth.
  5. You don’t need either a data warehouse or data marts to do data warehousing. – No comment needed.
  6. Data quality is never an issue. – Data Quality is always an issue.
  7. Dimensional models are not one of the products of requirements gathering sessions. – Dimensional models and dimensional modelling should be a key component of requirements gathering workshops with business users.
  8. Put all the data you can find in the source systems, into the data warehouse. – Boil the ocean, boil people’s brains, and fry the data warehouse initiative. This approach never ever works.
  9. Testing is not a major requirement of Data Warehousing. – Famous last words.
  10. Business users can’t understand self-service analytics. – The very idea that business users are not intellectually equipped to think is one of the major fallacies ingrained in many IT organisations. Many businesses have smart, alert and intelligent individuals who excel at their work in spite of the constraints and pressures of their jobs. For decades, business users have found ways of making up for shortfalls in all aspects of their work, but also have worked around the inability of IT to respond to business needs and rapid changes in the business. To this end, even before Data Warehousing came into being, as a means to rescue the reputation of IT, many end-users were helping themselves by developing their own end-user computing reporting and analysis applications, using end-user computing technologies such as the amazing Mapper software from Sperry Univac (now part of Unisys).

There is a saying that you can drive with your feet if you want to, but why would you want to? And moreover, why would anyone recommend this approach to anyone else?

Many thanks for reading.

File under: Good Strat, Good Strategy, Martyn Richard Jones, Martyn Jones, Cambriano Energy, Iniciativa Consulting, Iniciativa para Data Warehouse, Tiki Taka Pro