Custom Application Development

Jul 9 2008   7:50AM GMT

Information Silos and Other Images

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

Images of the “Information Silo”, the “Data Warehouse”, “Data Management” and “Business Intelligence” could undoubtedly conjur up humorous images for the graphically or artistically endowed technologist.  Traveling through farmland as I often do, I often see the farm silos and chuckle to myself as I think of “Information Silos”.  I wish I had the talent to create caricatures of the images I think of when encountering these terms – I’m sure they could evoke a chuckle from somebody other than I.

Anyway, that being said, these terms are no laughing matter for those faced with the real challenge of making simple the complexity of data available to companies today.  From my experience I’d say that most companies – even those single location small companies, have a multitude of information stored in a multitude of systems.  The “systems” containing this data may be an individual PC, a company ERP system on a server, a sales (CRM) system (maybe on a multitude of salespersons laptops) – each its own “silo”. 

There are many stories of failed BI implementations.  Why?  I would posit that users trust their data and information, but not necessarily that coming from say, the IT department.  They know where “their” data is coming from, how it was collected, and it’s meaning – because its “theirs”!  Whether it presents a complete picture, or is applicable in all instances is totally irrelevant – just ask that branch manager, or department manager … or whoever has the data.

That being said, I’d say that perhaps key to getting the most value from the data you have available is getting the buy-in of the end-users of the data in regard to data source and reliability.  If a data source is to be used, do the end-users “trust” the data?  No trust – Don’t use it!  An interesting post suggesting 3 causes of failure for BI implementations is available here – an interesting read.

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