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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!

June 2006 Archives

As a consumer, we are bombarded by media outlets and messages. The growth in media outlets over the past few decades has been enormous. Yet, we are learning to tune them out and a new set of outlets will emerge. Consider the TiVo effect on television. How much longer will television networks and stations allow me to watch their shows while forwarding through the commercials? It’s probably a more dire situation than the advertisers know since surveying companies have had a big network influence, even while average cable and satellite customers have over 100 channels now to choose from. It’s hard to stay put on a live show anymore. I usually watch shows off TiVo in fast forward with closed captioning on. It's much more efficient.

Is it any wonder that the highest cost television ad was 10 years ago?

So what’s the answer? RFID. Coming soon to a shopping cart, billboard and doorway near you – monitors that detect your personal presence and pitch you a personalized ad that could actually get your attention. While RFID chips become more ubiquitous at close to 5 cents each and small as the period at the end of this sentence with increasing amounts of memory, monitors are cheapening in cost. It’s the perfect storm. Next time (well, maybe next year), you’re in aisle 8, the convergence of the frequent shopper card in your pocket and the fact that you’re next to those peas you like could mean a pop-up on that funny little cart monitor with a reminder about those little greenies.

Posted June 30, 2006 8:48 AM
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An article I recently published will be verticalized for the retail industry. I was asked to give my thoughts about trends facing those information management programs, based on my work in that industry. Although it may not seemingly be an information management concern, gas price increases are difficult to avoid as a major trend affecting retail as well as other industries.

Information management programs like data warehouses and master data management are being used to improve the analytic capabilities of retail organizations. This is being done to enable the natural follow-on to those activities that would place higher costs on long transport of items. Call it an economic “re-localization” or whatever you wish, but it is an inevitable result of current trends taken into the future. Did you know, from the supply side, the food industry operates under the presumption that the average piece of food we (U.S.A. citizens) purchase travels over a thousand miles from its origin!? This is only scalable when oil/gas is cheap.

Information management is naturally immune to heavy transport costs – at least on the surface. However, much of information management is an enabler of other highly affected industries like retail, consumer goods and energy. Some great thinkers in these industries are getting ready with their information for a continued increase in gas prices to the point where transport will become a primary determinant of product mix.

In the future, and who knows how long, if trends continue, people will come to be aware of and appreciate the production abilities of the land in their region. In a sense, the world may get bigger rather than smaller in our future.

Posted June 25, 2006 2:32 PM
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The Data Warehousing Institute recently named its 2006 annual list of "best practice" award winners. A CSI client is a winner. Business Intelligence has become the “center of the universe” for the AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group (ABSG). This is no more evident then when you visit the main page of the ABSG website ( Two words are repeated and have become the mantra for ABSG employees in 2006 - “Knowledge Driven". Now that's radical!

Posted June 21, 2006 12:10 PM
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I'm back from doing an MDM strategy in Saudi Arabia and trying to catch up on everything. So, Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, is stepping down in 2008 from his Microsoft post. Well, it's not like he has more to accomplish. Though he didn't start with rags, the riches he has achieved is beyond belief. He was the right person doing the right thing at the right time. What a journey!

I hope this is just the beginning of a second, more important, calling for Bill and Melinda. The Gates philanthropic endeavors are legendary, supporting world needs and making a difference in the lives of the sick and impoverished, especially in Africa, which desperately needs the world's help.

If somebody has to be the richest man in the world, I am certainly glad it's Bill Gates.

Posted June 20, 2006 9:09 AM
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When I come across an interesting use of technology, whether related to business intelligence or not, I like to bring it to you here. This shop owner invented a device that apparently emits an irritating high pitch that he cannot hear himself (he used his daughter to test it) but is designed to rid the teenage hangouts from loitering about his place of business. Since we lose ranges of hearing as we age, only the younger set (under 30 is mentioned) should hear it and be repelled by it.

Teenagers, however, have taken the technology over to their advantage by using it for ring tones in classrooms where teachers cannot hear it.

Ahh, technology. I'll call that even. Read about it here.

I tested it with my 9-yr. old son and, while I can still hear it, I cannot hear it as well as he can. Listen here (to the tone or to silence depending on your hearing.) ;-)

Posted June 18, 2006 6:16 PM
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IDC's RDBMS 2005 Vendor Share report came out last month. Here's a link to it on Oracle's site. Oracle has good reason to post it on their site. They still dominate the market - by far.

Microsoft is making huge strides and of course, IBM is in the mix. In the 'Future Outlook' of the report, there is a note about open source RDBMS such as MySQL. I would also throw in data warehouse appliances and suggest that these are 2 emerging technologies that are potentially disruptive to the status quo.

When market share is measured for 2006, I expect further increases from Oracle, Teradata and Microsoft. Perhaps by the 2007 numbers, Netezza and MySQL will merit their name on the list.

Posted June 8, 2006 8:19 AM
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How do you know if you're doing master data management/MDM? Well, first of all, it's unlikely that you're NOT doing some forms of managing master data in your organization. Master data is compiled for a variety of purposes in an organization, usually with limited sharing across those purposes and applications. Somewhere on the path of beginning to share, an organization will take a specific focus on that process. That focus may cause focuses (foci?) on any of the following:

- The quality of the data
- Widespread buy-in to the data
- Organizational ownership of the data
- Creation of workflow processes to collect multi-group input to the build of that data
- Apportionment of all enterprise data into managable chunks ("subject areas")
- Inventory of the various places that data is stored
- Ranking of the value of the various places that data is stored
- Creation of a unique database to store that data

At some point on this journey, an organization will come to the realization that there is an industry for this - the MDM industry - and adapt that terminology. This usually coincides with some budgetary allotment for the activities - the MDM budget of course.

Of course, that's one way a company comes to this realization. The other way is being exposed to the MDM industry and looking for its value to the organization, doing some top-down planning and beginning to engage these activities. Either way, each company should understand why they are doing MDM and where the ROI will come from. Though many will eschew this part of the process, it's important.

The (relatively) easy way to show the value is by showing how centralizing function will save on the myriad of pockets of like activity throughout the organization. I've blogged about MDM justification before. This blog is meant to lead into that one by elaborating on the MDM journey that many are going through.

Posted June 7, 2006 1:24 PM
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Last week, I focused on...
1. Time Management
2. Desire to succeed
3. Goal Setting

I fill out that list out further with these...
4. Brual honesty with oneself
5. Willingness to do the things nobody else wants to do
6. Paranoia

Being brutally honest with yourself means getting past ego talk and ego demands and setting progressive goals towards your bigger goals. As you hit these interim targets (or not), you know exactly where you stand.

Being willing to do the things nobody else wants to do might mean physical demands like traveling or it might mean doing the extras like writing or documenting. This might mean the development of new skills which don't necessarily come naturally, but are valued at your employer or in the market. The first article I ever wrote took me every evening of my week of vacation - in Hawaii. I didn't exactly bang that one out!

Personally, I count paranoia as a quality that sets truly top performers apart. Andrew Grove titled his book "Only the Paranoid Survive". If you're paranoid, you expect the worst and prepare for it. You expect to not get that promotion or for your company to have a setback or for the ETL jobs to fail tonight. In the process of expecting, if you don't automatically create a way to prevent the worst, you will be better prepared to react to it.

Keep striving. Top performers, by definition, are elite. I've tried to put some meat on that definition here in these posts.

Posted June 4, 2006 10:19 AM
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