There is nothing like floating down a magnificent river in scenic southern Oregon to stimulate good discussions about Business Intelligence...
That's right. I said floating down a river. For the fourth year, Scott Humphrey , the founder and sponsor of the Pacific Northwest BI Summit, treated a number of innovative BI vendors and four leading BI experts to a highly stimulating and memorable weekend. Continue on to read what we talked about.
Scott designed the Pacific Northwest Business Intelligence Summit to "combine a stimulating exchange of ideas about key issues in the data warehousing, business intelligence and CRM sectors with equally stimulating opportunities for networking with true industry influencers. The setting is relaxed, the sessions are intimate, the
activities exhilarating, the scenery literally breathtaking."
The vendors were FirstLogic, Microsoft, Purisma, Celequest, DATAllegro, Informatica, and Teradata. The media was well represented by Ron Powell, B-EYE-Network, and David Stodder, Intelligent Enterprise, who also served as our moderator. The industry leaders were Colin White, BI Research, Jill Dyche, Baseline Consulting, William McKnight, CSI Consulting, and yours truly, Intelligent Solutions.
Indeed, it lives up to every bit of its billing. Here's what we discussed:
First up was Colin White. His topic dealt with data integration which included the techniques and technologies (e.g., EAI, EII, and ETL) available today. He discussed the preliminary research for his upcoming white paper. The three top issues so far are data quality, inadequate funding, and poor data integration infrastructure. The good news is that funding for data integration is increasing and more and more companies are forming centers of competency to handle this thorny issue.
I was next and my topic was data stewardship. There has been much written about this topic but companies today are still struggling with how to get the function funded, staffed and authorized to make the changes necessary to ensure the quality and consistency of this important corporate asset. It was agreed that data stewardship will not be successful without proper (and vocal) executive support, the authority to change the way the business does business, and not only responsibility for the data but also for those business processes that handle the data.
We then took a break for the rest of the first day to try our hands at kayaking down the Rogue RIver. What a spectacular natural beauty! And I am proud to say that we all made it down in one piece and I only fell out once...
The next day, William McKnight started us off with a lively discourse on Master Data Management (MDM). We talked about leading vendors in this space, how it was perhaps an outgrowth of the older reference data management, hopefully with more success this time around. MDM more often than not starts within a BI project but must move into a more enterprise-wide status. MDM is useful for just about any application or system within the enterprise.
Jill Dyche finished up the morning with another timely topic - Customer Data Integration (CDI). She described how there are two ways approaches to a CDI project: top down -- starting with an enterprise-wide effort and bottom up -- from application orientation. We discussed the idea that perhaps CDI was a subset of overall MDM initiative.
We finished the morning with a discussion of unstructured data and the state of meta data. For unstructured data, we covered its architecture, technological support available today, and how it can be combined with the structured data found in the data warehouse. For meta data, we discussed the current state of technological support for it Unfortunately, there is still not an enterprise-wide mechanism to handle all forms and sources of meta data. Parts of meta data are supported in ETL products and some data quality products.
OK -- that was enough work for the morning. We then spent the afternoon watching a charming and very funny play in Ashland, OR. The evenings were spent eating fabulous food prepared by the Weasku Inn's staff and continuing our discussions from the morning. By the way, Weasku is not a foreign word -- just spread out the name out to We-ask-u Inn. Cute, huh?
Now that is what I call a conference! Thanks, Scott, for putting together such an interesting group of people in a stunning location and topping it off with exciting and fun activities. My hat is off to you!
Yours in BI success,