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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in William's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

March 2006 Archives

Here's a thought for the day. In case any of us bloggers begin to think too much of our blogs, even pigeons are blogging now. (well, sort of)

Posted March 26, 2006 5:26 PM
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Many business intelligence (BI) programs have delivered a solid initial rollout, but program managers find challenges in getting beyond those first targets. Often the methods that ushered in the early ROI plan are too free-flowing and unmanageable when users are counting on the data warehouse for production needs. And once the concept is proven, recouping the investment requires a rollout beyond the initial set of core users. However, prospective users of BI require more than a well-built infrastructure in order to convert them to daily users. Attracting users—which is required for success—can be a difficult and elongated process.

For the rest of this article I wrote that's in the latest Teradata Magazine, please see Feel free to comment on it here.

Posted March 23, 2006 12:58 PM
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I am fascinated by Easter Island and plan to visit there someday to see the giant moai. I have a picture of one on my wall, oversighting me as I work.

Easter Island is a story of a people who, while the land was productive for them, allowed themselves the luxury of building giant statues of their ancestors, called moai, from the resources. Over time, as the land became less productive, moai-building ceased and there's evidence of a backlash against the statues since many were toppled and even unmoved from the inner-island quarry. However, their ecosystem was forever affected by the abundant use of resources for the moais, and eventually the populated dwindled and probably suffered immensely.

I do several data warehouse assessments each year where I analyze programs from all perspectives and render analysis. If it's warranted, the assessment is critical. One program I have been involved with for years received a very harsh criticism of their program, with specific remedies. It was a funding sinkhole. You name it, they were doing it wrong. They took the advice and followed it to a 't'. They now have an effective program with hundreds of users accessing clean, timely, documented data in various reasonable manners of delivery. They have documented high ROI and fabulous quotes from the user community. With nice promotions all-around, they're now a candidate for a best practices competition.

I assessed another program about the same time. They weren't nearly as bad off and the assessment reflected that - more complimentary than critical. The program was stalled however and there were several areas they needed to work on. Upon receipt of said assessment, it was immediately stamped 'confidential' and buried in a drawer. A couple of years later, they are in a worse position than they were during the assessment. They continue to throw people at the problem, doing things in the same ways as always and generating the same, mediocre results. The staff still goes home at night without a sense of accomplishment. They've actually accustomed themselves to protecting the status quo and not expecting much. Meanwhile, executive pressure grows upon the program as their pole position in their industry is coming under serious challenges.

So why did this program bury the assessment? The answer is there were critical points in it that would have made team members look bad for a small handful of decisions. This program continues to utilize their resources in the same manner as before. They are headed for an eventual dark turn. This team wants to be able to tell upper management they've had an outside assessment and everything is fine. The reflection upon data warehousing itself then is poor and will worsen. I can see the executives saying "if this is good, then let's not do data warehousing at all."

The 'moral to the story' is that it is possible in data warehousing to have the foresight, sometimes with the help of a second set of experienced eyes, to avoid disaster and put your program on an excellent trajectory - but only if the advice is taken.

Posted March 22, 2006 12:31 PM
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According to several reports (link), it has been proven that viruses can be spread from tampered chips back into the database collecting the information and back out into other chips - similar to the method of viruses spreading through the internet today.

In all the excitement about RFID, I had not thought about the effect of viruses, or the method by which they would spread in this world. While this testing was done in a University setting and not meant to cause harm, obviously free market virus-making will ensue. It's much earlier in the RFID adoption than it was in the internet adoption for viruses. However, it's getting very mature in the adoption of viruses.

It will be interesting which RFID makers will present virus-protected chips first.

Posted March 19, 2006 8:25 AM
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In the past couple of months, I have learned RFID tags will be on pajamas and prescription drugs, partygoers, United airlines employees, police badges, cocktail waitresses and gated community vehicles.

And also (I knew this was coming) that it might be associated with the Book of Revelation's Mark of the Beast.

So, maybe the operative question is what WON'T RFID tags be on in the future. I believe I may have an answer - space junk. 5,500 tons of trackable space junk are now in Earth's orbit, causing precautions to be taken whenever space shuttles are launched. Space safety experts are concerned about this amassing of space junk.

Or maybe it's just a matter of time, like seemingly everything else physical.

Posted March 12, 2006 5:38 PM
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I always enjoy the well-researched OLAP Report that Nigel Pendse does annually. The report for 2005 is out (link.) The market continues to grow (close to $6M the way Nigel measures it, which he explains on the site.) The trajectories of the top 5 and top 10 vendors has been flat the last 2 years, but remains around 95% (top 10) and 75% (top 5). This is not a space letting in many new vendors to the big time.

Over the last several years, there has been nice upward slopes for Microsoft and downward slopes for Hyperion (which remains #2) and Oracle. I expect the latest release for Oracle to turn that slope somewhat in 2006.

Posted March 7, 2006 9:53 AM
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Calling master data management just another data mart, as some has done, is flawed on many levels. Probably most importantly, it implies that mart is fed from the data warehouse. Since the data warehouse should contain master data, not mere duplicates of dirty operational data and data marts should be cut for discrete query and application purposes, what purpose would a master data data mart serve? Master data is more about distribution to those operational systems that need it, as opposed to master data query.

Fix master data in the operational environment and feed it to the data warehouse. That way, all systems have access to master data. The data warehouse is too far down in the data lifecycle, and historically has been a poor instrument as a data distribution source, to be effective. If data warehousing met MDM needs, there wouldn't be a clamor for a different way with more applicability to modern business.

Master data management in the operational environment can comprise a virtual management structure or a physical structure. And keep in mind MDM is more than data storage and distribution. It's a holistic approach that includes data quality, data stewardship, third party data, enterprise quality modeling, ROI AND data management and distribution. This is why you have so many vendors at the MDM party. Most contribute a piece, like maybe the appetizer or dessert, but few contribute full MDM. It's really a process more than a technology. Contact me to learn about the experience- and success-based approach to MDM I've developed with my clients for my firm.

Look for my feature article in DM Review next month (April) on master data management and my course at TDWI May 18 in Chicago on the subject for more. Link.

Posted March 4, 2006 12:41 PM
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