If You Think Your Data Warehouse Project Is Done, Chances Are It Isnít

Originally published 3 February 2010

If you think your data warehouse project is done, chances are it isnít.

Conventional wisdom says that business executives view projects as part of a clearly defined process: they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. As part of that process, the project has an agreed-upon budget, and from the executiveís perspective, it seems rather straightforward: they want it delivered, on budget, and they want it to work. Period.

Alas, we in the world of business intelligence (BI), data warehousing and analytics know that our reality flies in the face of what executives see as conventional wisdom. Our conventional wisdom takes a different approach: we know all too well that BI and data warehousing projects are never fully delivered and implemented. We know that spending a fixed amount does not guarantee a successful data warehouse Ė instead, data warehouses evolve constantly as new data feeds come into the warehouse and the analytical workload continues to change over time.

Ironically, itís the business that drives this; new data on sales, marketing, merchandising, finance and HR must be correlated, analyzed and reported on. Increasing volumes of data needs to be made sense of, understood and turned into actionable insight that will drive the business...and increasingly, weíre being told that more people want access to this information and they want it, yes, yesterday. But all of this new data must be fed into the warehouse and then continually maintained and tweaked. As such, IT may deploy a data warehouse, but are always making changes to it, feeding and watering it, nurturing it so that it continues to serve its purpose and support the businessí goals.

Needless to say, this does not sit well with most CFOs Ė they prefer it when a capital expense equates to a project that has been paid for and delivered; the business and finance team can then turn their attention to the next project. Financial folk, and some CEOs, get frustrated when they see an ongoing expense incurred to the business when, in their mind, they believed that the project was delivered and concluded some time ago. This plays havoc with their budgetary spreadsheets. However, the CIO needs to educate the CFO that the world does not live in the cells and formulae of Excel, nor in the confines of an accounting system. Instead, IT needs to show business users that data warehousing, as well as analytics and business intelligence, are evolving beasts. Yes, they continue to consume an expense, but if done right, they will give insight back to the business so invaluable that sales can only be accelerated and costs reduced. TCO-savvy executives must realize that the total cost of a data warehouse operation will continue to increase; but, equally, they must appreciate that the ROI that the business gets from the solution will increase at the same rate, if not faster. Their arguments of data warehouse projects being costly, over budget and unsuccessful must be challenged, for when balanced out, the business will reap more from the spend than they ever would were they not to deploy a data warehousing solution in the first place.

So, how can companies reach common ground on this? One answer lies in the ability to outsource the data warehouse. Once all parties have acknowledged that a great data warehouse is alive and will continue to evolve, business and IT can keep its running costs to an absolute minimum by allowing a third-party to undertake the initial setup and perform the ongoing work for them. IT are happy as they realized long ago that data warehousing is not just a 3-month project that then ends. Likewise, CFOs and other business experts will become happy knowing that no initial capital expenditure was outlaid, but instead a small monthly fee is paid, which is known about up front and can be budgeted for accordingly. And thatís a TCO argument that is much easier to input and track in a spreadsheet.

SOURCE: If You Think Your Data Warehouse Project Is Done, Chances Are It Isnít

  • John Thompson
    John Thompson is responsible for all aspects of the U.S. operations of Kognitio. John is a global sales and marketing executive with over 23 years experience encompassing all aspects of demand and revenue generation, channel acquisition and growth, and cost management in growing emerging technology companies. His marketing experience includes all elements of corporate, brand, product, field and channel marketing. John’s technology expertise includes data warehousing and business intelligence systems, grid computing, knowledge discovery, analytical applications, data mining and exploration, high performance computing, and database systems. John can be reached at john.thompson@kognitio.com.



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