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Ronald Damhof

I have been a BI/DW practitioner for more than 15 years. In the last few years, I have become increasingly annoyed - even frustrated - by the lack of (scientific) rigor in the field of data warehousing and business intelligence. It is not uncommon for the knowledge worker to be disillusioned by the promise of business intelligence and data warehousing because vendors and consulting organizations create their "own" frameworks, definitions, super-duper tools etc.

What the field needs is more connectedness (grounding and objectivity) to the scientific community. The scientific community needs to realize the importance of increasing their level of relevance to the practice of technology.

For the next few years, I have decided to attempt to build a solid bridge between science and technology practitioners. As a dissertation student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, I hope to discover ways to accomplish this. With this blog I hope to share some of the things I learn in my search and begin discussions on this topic within the international community.

Your feedback is important to me. Please let me know what you think. My email address is

About the author >

Ronald Damhof is an information management practitioner with more than 15 years of international experience in the field.

His areas of focus include:

  1. Data management, including data quality, data governance and data warehousing;
  2. Enterprise architectural principles;
  3. Exploiting data to its maximum potential for decision support.
Ronald is an Information Quality Certified Professional (International Association for Information and Data Quality one of the first 20 to pass this prestigious exam), Certified Data Vault Grandmaster (only person in the world to have this level of certification), and a Certified Scrum Master. He is a strong advocate of agile and lean principles and practices (e.g., Scrum). You can reach him at +31 6 269 671 84, through his website at or via email at

Yep - bringing up an oldie, but still o so true.

Financial assets: A single Euro can only be spend once.....

Human captial: They can just walk out of the door and leave or be hunted by your competitor

Not so with your data; It is uniquely yours, closely connected to your business language, full of nuance, in the proper context and the ability to procreate new data. Every organization can use it's data differently to create it's own niche. When data is used by anyone in your organization, it will not be consumed and it will not expire (a patent will). There is simply no other asset that anyone can think one that owns these capabilities.

To make the case even stronger; the movement of data in your organization is your lifeblood. Any company will simply seize to exist if this data is of bad quality. Orders will not get through, customers credit information can not be seen and invoices can not be send.

Another fascinating attribute of data is that it defines the other assets; financial data, property data, employee data. Badly managed data will jeopardize the management of the other assets big time. So, it's kind of a 'super', ultimate asset.

Nicholas Carr wrote in 2003 in the Harvard Business Review 'IT doesn't matter'. Systems, infrastructure, services, hardware, software, ERP...whatever...they will and probably are already commodities. They are not a differentiating factor in competitive advantage, sustainability or reliability.  Data is however always unique, competitors can not get hold of it (well....unless you got a security problem) and if they got it, it will probably be hard to use, since data is often very closely linked to the organizational lingua franca.

Data must be nurtured, managed aggressively and - most of all- must be enabled to be exploited to the max in order to get a good return.It is by far the ultimate proprietary asset.

I believe that in business nowadays huge amounts of money are spend on very sophisticated technology, financial controls and process management  (the process taliban). The marginal returns from ever increasing investments into these developments will be small. Investments in data are quite the opposite. The opportunities are limitless. And, more importantly, any investment you make is proprietary to your organization. This is the true definition of competitive advantage. 

This posted is inspired and sometimes quoted by T.Redman and his book 'Data Driven'

Posted August 27, 2009 7:05 AM
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1 Comment

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