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Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

So...check it out every week to see what is new and exciting in our ever changing BI world.

About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants ( You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

Editor's Note:
More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!


April 2007 Archives

In the category of weird news stories, my husband sent me the following YouTube video. Ever worked with someone who was just plain annoying?

The video shows an office worker throwing paperclips at a fellow worker (under the careful eye of a surveillance camera) and the response from the fellow worker. The one thing I found truly remarkable was the reaction of the other co-workers to the ensuing response. Talk about not wanting to get involved...

Happy end of April!

Yours in BI Success.


Technorati Tags: YouTube, office violence, annoying coworkers

Posted April 30, 2007 2:07 PM
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I read with increasing sadness and futility about the massive effort launched to find Jim Gray, world-renown computer scientist. He disappeared on January 28, 2007 while sailing out of San Francisco Bay. After 16 days of intense searching using remarkable technologies, the ad hoc search was disbanded. The conclusion was that he was lost at sea.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this icon in our industry, Jim Gray worked for all the major computer companies -- IBM, Digital Equipment, Tandem, and finally Microsoft -- once he left UC, Berkeley.

The article on the search for Jim Gray can be read by clicking here.

A worldwide network of friends, associates and fellow researchers used the latest technologies to search the ocean, collaborate, and analyze massive amounts of data including digital imagery, in the hopes of locating Jim's sailboat, Tenacious. These folks organized the search effort well beyond the Bay area. Here are just a few of those involved:

1. Werner Vogel -- CTO of and one of Jim Gray's former students.
2. Dozens of his co-workers at Microsoft were freed up to help with the search
3. Associates at Carnegie Mellon University helped out
4. Istvan Szapudi -- a physicist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, with whom Jim Gray had worked
5. Antonio Baptista at Oregon Health and Science University and Yi Chao at NASA's Jet propulsion Lab, both ocean surface modelers, to predict where the sailboat might have drifted over several days
6. James Belllingham, chief technologies at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, served as a spotter over and over in his plane as hopeful "blips" were detected.
7. Alex Szalay, astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University, who had collaborated with Jim Gray on astronomy databases for a decade

Camera images from the U2 spy plane flown up and down the coast were collected and sent to Amazon's A9 product search site. The images were 8,000 by 8,000 pixels and were subsequently parsed into 400 by 400 "tiles" that were then enlarged for examination by the volunteers. Incredible! This produced 560,000 tiles each consisting of 160,000 pixels requiring 1.68 million viewings. Jim Gray's 40-foot boat would have appeared as only 6 to 8 pixels. A monumental and almost impossible task to review these images if not for the huge number of volunteers and Amazon's Mechanical Turk -- experimental software that lets many people work on a task simultaneously. Any promising "targets" were then scouted by civilian pilots and their spotters flying over them.

Alex Szalay, along with his son, wrote a Photoshop script that "stretched" satellite images data so that the human eye could discern a boat like Gray's. They then put 16 post-doctoral and grad students to work examining the satellite data. They too came up with hopeful possibilities but all were eventually ruled out.

Unfortunately the eventual result was that the Tenacious was never located and the search called off.

Jim would have been proud of this incredible collaboration of technology and people. It is a long-lasting and meaningful testament to this highly regarded technologist by his peers -- an honor bestowed on very few people. The techniques used in the effort to find him -- use of satellite imagery, ocean-current predictive modeling, Mechanical Turk, collaboration via the Web and other technologies -- can be used for future purposes, hopefully with much happier results. For someone who devoted his life to breakthrough technologies, this is the finest tribute.

Jim Gray's ideas and his ability to "strip away mystery by making things simple" (quote from Eric Allman, CTO of Sendmail) will truly be missed. Let us all lift a mouse in honor of this great man.

Yours in BI Success


Posted April 26, 2007 9:32 AM
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Ron Powell (publisher of the B-EYE-Network) sent me an email about a recent survey of 450 Directors of publicly traded companies (with revenues of over $1 billion) conducted by Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Apparently most corporate board members are really good at talking up a good story about how they support aligning IT with the corporate strategies they develop. Unfortunately their actions say otherwise...

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

1. Ten percent of boards relegate IT matters to a board committee. Geesh -- you mean they don't even talk about these matters in the actual Board meetings? Guess not -- see the next bullet...

2. Only 11 percent of boards even discuss IT at every meeting. Something as critical at IT infrastructure, direction, funding, etc., gets ignored almost 90% of the time?

3. Fourteen percent of the directors say that their boards are "completely and actively involved" in IT strategy. Let's hear it for these intelligent Boards and their repective companies. I wish I knew who they were.

4. At least those that report effectiveness in executing IT strategy admit that it correlates to better financial performance. Perhaps the other 86% of the respondents should sit up and listen.

5. According the the survey, 52% of the respondents say their board will NOT be spending any more time on IT over the next three years than it currently does.

6. Interestingly enough, the results indicated that when the CEO leads the discussion, boards are more involved in IT. The CEO gets it -- even if the rest of the directors don't...

This in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is a significant correlation between the attention paid to IT and corporate performance. Shame, shame!

Kenneth Porrello, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, states "...a gap exists between the emphasis the board appears to place on IT and the steps they are taking to address it. Many directors and senior executives blame this gap on the number of things that have been hitting the board's agenda and a resulting lack of time". Yeah, right -- like excessive executive pay, for example? Maybe investigations into compliance issues?

Mr. Porrello continues "...this excuse is becoming less credible given the growing importance of IT". Yes, indeed, it is important. According to T.K. Kerstetter, President and CEO of Corporate Board Member, " and IT are key business strategies and typically are accompanied by capital budgets reaching as high as a billion dollars in larger companies. The days of not understanding IT in the boardroom are gone, and I expect we will see more CIOs and CTOs invited to serve as board members in the years ahead".

I can only hope his prediction comes true.

Yours in BI (and Board attention) success.


Posted April 8, 2007 2:19 PM
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