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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!

April 2008 Archives

Those processes that were primarily considered to need to go against the data warehouse are now being moved back into operational systems themselves, or new systems are being established in operations. However, unlike previously, when ERP vendors were slow to acknowledge the need for anything beyond what they provided, ERPs today tend to work as members of an information ecosystem. It’s like back to the days before data warehousing, only this time with an operational environment increasingly able to keep up with corporate demands.

Today’s ERP environments are well aware of the real-time and up-to-date need for information and facilitate much of the analysis needed in three ways:
• By providing the analysis within the ERP system
• By flexibly allowing for data warehouse feeds
• By enabling enterprise application integration (EAI) and enterprise information integration (EII) for interchange with other operational systems and cross-system queries

Posted April 19, 2008 9:17 AM
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The article, Gartner: Business intelligence ROI, value a matter of mind over money, begins with "Determining the return on investment (ROI) and value of a business intelligence (BI) software investment is often an exasperating task, but not an impossible one, according to one Gartner analyst."

I completely agree, but I also feel it's a matter of maturity, and mature BI environments can get there. I also believe it's a best practice to measure and that it has a high correlation to overall "success", whether success is defined by the numbers or otherwise.

Following are some focuses, in order from healthiest to unhealthiest, that business intelligence programs fall into. As we progress through the focuses, you will notice the focus gets further and further away from the user.

Business Focus #1: Return on Investment
ROI is the holy grail of focus for business intelligence. Those teams that focus on achieving it have learned what business intelligence is all about. Studies have shown that driving toward ROI highly correlates to self-reported program success scores. The focus on ROI just seems to encourage the development team to work backwards to doing the right things day in and day out for the ultimate arbiter of success - the bottom line. Ultimately, to claim this focus, a team must have a great handle on the succeeding focuses well.

Business Focus #2: Data Usage
Those programs that don't measure ROI or are too removed from business processes that drive ROI but still want a business-focused BI program focus on the usage of the data. The objective here is increasing numbers and complexity of usage. With this focus, user statistics such as logins and query bands are tracked; however, little is understood about what the users ultimately do with the results.

Business Focus #3: Data Gathering and Availability

Under this focus, the business intelligence team becomes an internal data brokerage, serving up data for the organization's consumption. Users are not tracked because success is measured in the availability of the data.

In these environments so removed from usage, it is often a struggle for the users to leverage the data. It is not unusual to find a host of downstream processes (i.e., Excel, Access) operating to "fix," "clean" and make this data usable. Users may have grass roots efforts underway to utilize each other's "code."

These environments often come about when there is high complexity in the data extraction and movement layer of the architecture. While it's an accomplishment to deliver the data in these environments, the team should not neglect the need to deliver business intelligence, which requires the accoutrements related to usage to be in place -- such as governance, stewardship and a public relations program.

User satisfaction with such programs begins to fade once they are left to deal with the limitations of delivered raw data.

Technical Focus #1: Key (Technical) Performance Indicators
This is the technical counterpart to a business focus on data usage, but it is not as effective overall. There can be an especially large number of KPIs for the business intelligence program in the area of ETL. These are analogous to the metrics you might place in the operational meta data -- up time, cycle end times, successful loads, clean data levels, etc. While important, they do not comprise the end game.

Technical Focus #2: Adherence to a Guru Approach
One of the ultimate disservices business intelligence teams can do is to spend their budget primarily making sure the architecture adheres to a book standard - as opposed to what works for the users.


Technorati tags: data warehouse, business-intelligence, information management

Posted April 7, 2008 1:15 PM
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Jeffrey Ma was the keynote speaker at the MDM Summit Sunday night in San Francisco. He is the subject of the (current top box office) movie "21" about the MIT Blackjack team that took their system to Vegas on weekends. The system gave them, at most, a 2% advantage over the house. When deployed over time, that is sure to be most profitable. I saw the movie and I really enjoyed it.

One thing you'll notice, if you saw the movie, is that Mr. Ma does not look like the actor who portrayed him in the movie, who is Caucasian.

Aaron Zornes, Chief Research Officer for the MDM Institute, kicked off the session by rightfully announcing that CDI (customer data integration) was important in bringing the MIT team down.

The team's success at blackjack came from the same places where our success in other business comes from: trust and teamwork, planning and organization, common goal setting and commitment to analytics.

Jeffrey's main message was not to let emotion guide your decisions. He mentioned that Jerry West, longtime NBA luminary as a player, coach and executive, "hated statistics" because the common ones do not take enough information into account to really be useful. Jeffrey can work on this in his current venture - Protrade, a sports stock market website.

Technorati tags: Jeffrey MA, 21

Posted April 4, 2008 2:08 PM
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We will be having the Information Management seminar in my home area of Dallas, TX on April 14 at 2:00. The registration link is here.

The Colonnade Center
15305 Dallas Parkway
Suite 300
Addison, Texas 75001

• Take the North exit from terminal.
• Go east on Interstate 635 to Tollway North exit.
• Exit Belt Line Road/Arapaho Road.
• This is a toll road so be prepared with change.
• Go through the intersection at Belt Line Road.
• Turn left at Arapaho and cross over the tollway.
• Colonnade III is located on the south-west corner of the Arapaho-Tollway intersection.
• (Approximately 20 - 25 minutes without traffic)

• Take Cedar Springs south to W.
• Mockingbird Lane turn left.
• Turn left onto Dallas Tollway (North).
• This is a toll road, so be prepared with change.
• Exit Belt Line/Arapaho.
• Go through the intersection at Belt Line Road.
• Turn left at Arapaho Road (cross over tollway).
• Colonnade III is located on the south-west corner of the Arapaho-Tollway intersection.
(Approximately 20 minutes without traffic)

Posted April 2, 2008 4:48 PM
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The location for the New York seminar is 11 Penn Plaza, 5th Floor
New York, New York 10001

• Located on Seventh Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets with easy access to mass transportation in and around Metro New York.
• Across the street from the world famous "Garden" sports arena.

Posted April 1, 2008 8:45 AM
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