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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

Lately I come across vendors of OLTP systems that engage highly in tied selling. Now - if there is complete transparency to the customer- this is off course no problem. But, the sad thing is, this transparency is usually extremely bad or even non existent. 

This tied selling combined with (complete) lack of transparency has caused severe damage to the economy as we have seen especially in the financial sector. In Europe the European Commission is highly active in forcing vendors to stop tied selling (for example Internet Explorer and the OS of Microsoft). Vendors receive huge fines if they engage in these practices.

Unfortunately these practices are also quite mainstream in the data exploitation industry.

Suppose I am a customer and I am buying software to support my primary processes. This software is implemented and I eventually get it working. Now I want management information and since I am quite a large enterprise with several OLTP (legacy) systems I decide to go for a Enterprise Data Warehouse solution build according to more or less open standards. 

Off course I go to my software vendor and I am asking him to supply the data.....not a weird question because it's MY data.....

Now the vendor is saying; 'my system is extremely complex, business rules are fired off through a logical layer, it's very complex to interpret the data and (I hear this one all the time) we got a system that is metamodelled (they probably mean Row=Value kind of stuff). And are not allowed to get the underlying datamodel; that is proprietary'. 

But - the software vendor is offering me a brilliant off-the-shelf-super-dooper-it-can-do-it-all-and-I-only-have-to-go-through-wizard-solution; you can buy our management information software.........

So - to summarize: I bought an OLTP system to support my business processes, it's my data that is registered. But it turns out that I can't access it. I can not get my data without buying ADDITIONAL software and off course I need their consultants to implement the stuff and to make it fit for my needs (and that's off course is the next tied selling stuff; to fit the management information to my needs), I need to buy support fees, I need to buy next versions...and even worse....I might be obliged to buy all kinds of other software (broker, workflow, reporting, analysis, dashboarding etc..) to get required functionality. 

Now, if the vendor gave full disclosure of this tied selling stuff - BEFORE the product was actually purchased - there is no problem. But, if they don't....well, then we need to take a stand.

Two lessons:
 - The customer needs to stand more firm in selecting software that is able to extract it's data to other targets. Customers need to add these criteria in selecting OLTP systems. You, my dear customer, OWN your data. It just can not be true, that you are not able to access it without buying additional stuff.

- The customer needs to take a stand to vendors that engage in non-transparant tied selling. It's just not acceptable as a means of doing business.

Posted October 20, 2009 4:54 AM
Permalink | 3 Comments |


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