Guest Author

Guest Author

Turn the Data Warehouse into a Glass House

Jim Harris, OCDQ

The data warehouse’s goal is timely delivery of trusted data to support decision-enabling insights. However, it’s difficult to get insights out of an environment that’s hard to see inside of. This is why, as much as is possible given the necessities of data privacy, a data warehouse should be turned into a glass house, allowing us to see data quality and business intelligence challenges as they truly are.

Trusted data is not perfect data. Trusted data is transparent data, honest about its imperfections, and realistic about the practical trade-offs between delivery and quality. You can’t fix what you can’t see, but even more important, concealing or ignoring known data quality issues is only going to decrease business users’ trust of the data warehouse. Perfect data is impossible, but the more control enforced wherever data originates, and the more monitoring performed wherever data flows, the better overall data quality will be in the warehouse. (more…)

Posted in Data Privacy, Data Quality, Data Warehousing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

When Delivery is Job One, Quality is Job None

Jim Harris, OCDQ

The reality in data warehousing is that the primary focus is on delivery. The data warehouse team is tasked with extracting, transforming, integrating, and loading data into the warehouse within increasingly tight timeframes. Twenty years ago, monthly data warehouse loads were common.  Ten years ago, weekly loads became the norm. Five years ago, daily loads were called for.  Nowadays, near-real-time analytics demands the data warehouse be loaded more frequently than once a day. (more…)

Posted in Big Data, Data Integration, Data Quality | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Analyst Guest Post: “Why Product Information Management (PIM) is an Issue for Companies”

The Benefits of Product Information Management, by Andy Hayler, CEO of “The Information Difference”

A recent survey by The Information Difference of well over 100 large organisations found that, on average, they had nine separate systems providing competing sources of product data (13% of respondents had over 100 sources). As can be imagined, that diversity of product data creates headaches for anyone trying to measure business performance, e.g. “what are our most profitable products?” is an easy question to ask but a tough one to answer if no one can agree what a product is, or into which category it is placed.

It also presents operational problems: if you are a retailer who has high street stores, a print catalogue operation, and also an eCommerce web site, then how are you to ensure a consistent process for onboarding and updating product information if different parts of the business have different systems and definitions?  Customers that see a special offer online will expect that offer to be available in a store or vice versa, and will not be happy if it is not. There are further issues with eCommerce compared to a retail store: in a store customers can touch and see a product, so online they need more detailed information in order to have the confidence to purchase, such as detailed images of the product and its specifications.

Various phases of application consolidation, including ERP, have failed to improve this situation. Master data management has evolved as a discipline and technology to provide dedicated hubs of high quality data in an enterprise that can serve other systems as needed. It may be impractical to switch off all those legacy systems, but you can put in place a new hub for your product data where the data is trustworthy. This can then be linked directly back to other systems, either in batch or in real time via a web service, so that new product data, when updated in the master data hub, can be immediately used in other systems such as an inventory system or eCommerce web site.

There are various approaches to master data management: some technologies are designed to deal with all kinds of different master data (customer, product, asset, location etc.) while others specialise in a particular data domain, such as product or customer. There are reasons why specialising can make sense. Product data is much more complex than customer name and address data, with materials master files often appearing in unstructured files. Such data needs to be parsed and structured and then validated, requiring different approaches to those used to handle address data. Moreover the classification of products can be complex, with something like a camera having a large number of components and options, so systems to handle product data must be strong at handling complex classification hierarchies.

One example of a company confronting this issue is Kramp, Europe’s largest wholesaler of spare parts for motorized equipment. With 2,000 suppliers they used to take weeks to transfer new product data from suppliers into their internal systems and its eCommerce hub. By implementing a product data hub they were able to radically streamline this process, allowing suppliers to interact directly with the product data hub, and for this data to be consistently updated in the systems that need it, without need for time-consuming interactions with the suppliers to discuss particular data formats. This has led to higher margins due to being able to take advantage of “Long Tail’ niche items, lower process costs and quicker reaction time, important in new markets.

Improved multichannel processes, such as in this example, are why more and more companies are evaluating master data management solutions in order to finally tackle the issue of inconsistent product data. The evident benefits that such improvements bring means that businesses see real, quantified benefits, and why master data management is arguably the fastest growing enterprise software segment right now.

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Delivering IT Value with Master Data Management and the Cloud

By Mike Canniff of Mercury Consulting

Over the last few years most enterprises have implemented several (if not more) large ERP and CRM suites. Although these applications were meant to have self-contained data models, it turns out that many enterprises still need to manage “master data” between the various applications. So the traditional IT role of hardware administration and custom programming has evolved to packaged application implementation and large scale data management.  According to Wikipedia: “MDM has the objective of providing processes for collecting, aggregating, matching, consolidating, quality-assuring, persisting and distributing such data throughout an organization to ensure consistency and control in the ongoing maintenance and application use of this information.” Instead of designing large data warehouses to maintain the master data, many organizations turn to packaged Master Data Management (MDM) packages (such as Informatica MDM). With these tools at hand, IT shops can then build true Customer Master, Product Master (Product Information Management – PIM), Employee, or Supplier Master solutions. (more…)

Posted in Cloud Computing, Master Data Management | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Case for MDM-based Enterprise Codeset Repositories …

By John Wollman, Executive Vice President, HighPoint Solutions,

Over the next two years, leading up to the ICD-10 “go live” date of October 1, 2014, there will be many procurement cycles for ICD-10 mapping and crosswalk tools. At present, we are seeing an evolution in the philosophy relating to the management of codes and mappings that will influence buyer decisions on the types of tools to incorporate into an ICD-10 program.

In considering mapping and crosswalk tools, leading companies are viewing the problem from an ongoing operational perspective, and not simply through a transition/conversion lens. The notion is that the complexity of ICD-10 is not limited to a one-time transition or conversion. Rather, the complexity will continue to be a problem well after October 1, 2014. The ongoing operational requirements call more for Master Data Management (MDM) approaches to managing codesets, mappings and the enterprise artifacts that are comprised of codes. (more…)

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Big Data, Big Problems: Leveraging Informatica 9.5 to Build an Effective Data Governance Strategy to Meet the Big Data Challenge

By: Chris Cingrani, Informatica DQ & MDM Practice Lead, Data Management Practice at SSG Ltd.,

Big data is something that I am continually asked about by clients, as the subject continues to gain significant press.  While discussing this topic, I often address it from the angle that bigger data volumes will result in bigger data problems.   Although this seems like a logical premise, the reality of what it really means to an organization and how to plan accordingly is what is often overlooked.  Rather than solve the problem in this blog post, I want to focus on two key considerations from a data governance standpoint, as well as discuss why SSG sees Informatica 9.5 as a core component of a sound data governance strategy that can ensure an organizations’ business decision-making success. (more…)

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Anatomy Of A New Swaps Infrastructure

A post from the TABB Group

For the biggest swaps dealers, creation of their new OTC derivatives infrastructure will include rebuilding existing platforms, buying key elements from technology providers, leveraging technology already in place in other asset classes and, of course, building new platforms from scratch. This is not a buy-versus-build decision—it’s a careful balancing act of process and technology decisions to create a best-of-breed infrastructure. (more…)

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The CIO’s Role In Driving Customer Profitability




When asked by the Conference Board in 2011 to rank the challenges that keep them up at night, U.S.-based CEOs put business growth in the number one position. Growing the business means growing the customer base by delivering a superior customer experience—and that demands leadership for the elimination of customer data silos and delivering complete, reliable customer data to the business.

The CIO is in a unique strategic position to help out—and emerge as (an unexpected) customer champion. Cases of CIOs taking on the role of customer champion, in my opinion, are not prevalent enough and represent a missed opportunity to advance the organization’s quest for customer profits. Companies need to focus on such immediately actionable key metrics as understanding the value of gained and lost customers, quantities of referrals, and the movement of customers from one level of profitability to another. I call these the “Guerrilla Metrics” because they power the customer onto the corporate agenda—and will help the CEO determine the value of the corporation based on its ability to manage customers as assets. This requires enabling the integration of customer data and driving that as a priority. (more…)

Posted in Customer Acquisition & Retention | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Want To Make Sure Your Customer Experience Work Stays On Track?

Manage these Seven Inhibitors of Customer Experience Work Success

1. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan.

  • Often companies decide that they want to get some early traction by telling everyone to “focus on customer experience.”  What happens next is that people realize this is a big corporate priority and begin making plans, creating new scorecards, and taking action.
  • This proliferates the silo-based approach to actions that is contrary to the discipline of experience development and management.  A lot of action occurs, executives get a “false positive” that action is occurring and traction is happening, but it eventually stalls out because the actions don’t tie together and aggregate up to improve complete end-to-end customer experiences. (more…)
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