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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!

Recently in The Brain Category

In a study at the University of Chicago, reported on in Science Now (link: fee required), mice raised in boring settings were more likely to have detrimental deposits in their brain than those in more stimulating environments. Their stimulation? Running on treadmills.

So, if you are bored with life in business intelligence, I don't know whether to tell you to go run on the treadmill or to find other means of stimulation, but definitely do something for the health of the brain.

Posted January 15, 2006 12:47 PM
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If you agree business intelligence is a brainy activity, read on. The dawn of a new year is a great time to think about the big picture of your career and what some of the macro factors are that affect it.

As widely reported on the internet (i.e., link to report), individual brain cells tend to 'recognize' famous people according to a study. The human brain is more efficient than we thought. The research found that some memories, such as those of famous people, events and facts, trigger a surprisingly small number of brain cells. Similar but different memories like an actress and that same actress paired with an actor actually trigger entirely different cells.

While falling short of proving that each memory is contained in a single brain cell, the results are surprising in that memories do not tend to be distributed over large areas of the brain, as we had thought.

So, the more brain cells we can accumulate, the more discrete memories we can accumulate. Studies show that even though we lose brain cells throughout life, neurons can regenerate. How can we do that? According to other research (past blog entry), one answer is to sleep.

Studies done with rats prove that apnea can destroy cells in the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory. Moderate exercise can also help, as can avoiding high-fat, high-carb diets.

Posted December 29, 2005 12:11 PM
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Paul A. Strassman, in "Putting a Price on Brainpower", puts forward a methodology to measure knowledge capital. He updates the dated economic model (mechanization and new production processes or innovative technologies) to reflect brainpower, or knowledge capital.

The importance of knowledge is defined as Shareholder Equity - Market Capitalization. Divide that by Shareholder Equity and you have knowledge value. Divide that by number of employees and you have knowledge value per employee.

Drawing a correlation between this measure and making the most of your hard assets, Paul states the top 100 firms by book value, (i.e., the largest US firms) accounted for 71% of the total knowledge value for the US economy. So, large firms are achieving the largest increases from book value to market capitalization - something all compaies aspire to - making the most of their assets.

Since investors are willing to value firms at much more than their book value (essentially what the hard assets will generate), now more than ever, this makes some sense. Attributing the gap to "knowledge" is fair. Since there are no hard assets to attribute them to, it must be something else. If you're thinking it's "euphoria", Paul's already thought of that and exempts this calculation from those companies whose stock price is affected by "irrational exuberance."

I don't think this is going to help justify any DW/BI investments. I'm sticking with good old ROI, but it is a clever observation.

Posted December 7, 2005 8:38 AM
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Tired of having to move that mouse, type on that keyboard, use a pen computer or even speak to operate your computer? How about just think about what you want entered?

Scientists at the New York State Department of Health in Albany, NY have demonstrated a brain-computer interface (BCI) that send signals through electrode-laden caps which interpret the brain's rhythms and can move a computer cursor in any direction.

In "NEUROPROSTHETICS: Brain-Computer Interface Adds a New Dimension" (Link: fee required), Ingrid Wickelgren states "This fall, surgeons implanted 100 electrodes into the brain of a 25-year-old quadriplegic man and connected them to a computer that enables him to check his e-mail and choose a television channel with his thoughts alone. And monkeys with similarly implanted electrodes have used brain signals to move cursors or robotic arms in two dimensions (Science, 24 January 2003, p. 496). Now, in a groundbreaking development, two neuroscientists from the Wadsworth Center, part of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, have shown that similar feats may be possible without the dangers of inserting electrodes into the brain."

The article goes on to list different early-stage possibilities, including operating a wheelchair, chess-playing, moving a computer mouse and moving a limb.

Not only can brain signals could be used to control a computer, but now we learn it can be done without surgically implanting large numbers of tiny electrodes. The detector is called an electroencephalogram or EEG.

The implications are enormous, almost beyond belief, for future generations. Can you imagine business intelligence at the speed of.... thought?!

Posted December 6, 2005 10:24 AM
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