All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Data warehousing, what is she like?

Although the answers are probably obvious, and to be honest, compared to the Big Data hype-circus this is a walk in the park, I have often wondered why Data Warehousing attracts such a surfeit of lazy, socially inept and shallow-thinking chancers.

I could go on about this at length, about how I convened a meeting recently (held on the outskirts of Bornheim, a small town in Germany ) to discuss how to move rapidly forward with a new strategic data-warehousing project, and how, whilst putting aside the crass impertinence and barely-disguised arrogance of my guests, I was still amazed by the unabashed and brazen snow-job that I was subjected to.

I imagined that this was a deliberate tactic used in the craven hope that I would be overcome by the depth and breadth of their ‘inside knowledge’, and would consent to having my workshop hijacked and reframed

But, I wasn’t having any of that. I know bluff and bluster when I see it, and as a reformed bullshitter I will not willingly accept bullshit from anyone else.

So, as their bullshit came in fast and furious I started making notes, and thinking of the most adequate response that a Project Manager could make in the circumstances, but I soon tired of note taking and was rapidly becoming irritated by a total lack of empathy and an utter lack of engagement.

Irritated as I was, I still tried putting things back on the rails. Therefore, I continued to be as engaging and constructive as one should, whilst internally suppressing the urge to ask ‘what the feck is going on here?’ So, I talked about lifting, shifting and dropping a legacy data warehouse and marts from one box to another – thinking that this would be the minimum that Data Warehouse experts could engage with – and the need to get estimates of the effort required to do so (you know, things like roles and number of days, Big ballpark estimate stuff). The ‘Data Warehouse Architect’ and I use that term loosely, went off on a tangent. Vague, fuzzy and disjointed. The architect threw in some nonsensical vagaries about the need for Master Data Management to be an integral component of any future data warehouse. I half-managed to avoid the incredulous Jeremy Paxman look of ‘what on earth are you talking about?’ just as the gathered augmented the assault on MDM with a call to Information Lifecycle arms. Therefore, when things were becoming even weirder, the weird turned pro, with the train kicked off the tracks, rolled down the hill, and then set on fire, by so-called professionals, passing themselves off as supine yobs, and reciting, in close harmony, “Proof of Concept! Proof of Concept! What about the f****** proof of Concept! Uh? Uh? Uh?”

Well, well, well… what a way to run a dance hall!

We were opening up all technological fronts, apart from the ones that would actually be relevant. I felt like a PG Tips chimp getting bananas and cups of tea thrown in their general direction. I was Martyn, the Project Chimp, plaintively calling out “‘ere mate, do you know this is not the way to do Data Warehousing”, and half-expecting a response along the lines of “you plan it, Son, we’ll muddle along “. I didn’t get a response, all I got was what looked like the human equivalent (if there is such a thing) of a page-fault, a glazing-over of the eyes and a rapid reboot into full-on bullshit mode.

I could go on and on about this all day, but I would rather not. Just the day in the life of a PM tasked with getting sense, sensibility, and work out of profane variations on the theme of Blackadder’s stupid Prince George. “I don’t need Inmon or Kimball, I know data! And… I have been to Ikea!” Sorry, that was just an example of how utterly obtuse things can get on the front-line of Data Warehousing.

So, to close, I would like to pose a question, one that goes beyond Data Warehousing and Big Data. Do people have the same or similar issues in other parts of IT or indeed in other businesses and technical related activities?


22nd September 2012