Enterprise Information Consolidation With Customer Focus

By: Max J. Pucher

There are a number of competing approaches for consolidating the enterprise IT, from data consolidation via integration to federation by means of data warehousing and complex approaches such as BPM with SOA. On the data warehousing and business intelligence front there is a slow realization that the use of million dollar investments in technology are not paying off. Pseudo-scientific research is performed to come to the obvious conclusion that data warehouses are underutilized. It would have been enough for a board member to sit down and try to work with the abstract information provided! Much of it has to do with the inability of users to understand and thus trust the information that they are given.

I propose that the solution is not training and more meta-information such as quality, definitional and navigational metadata. How about simply making IT what it should be: practical and focused on the work task (business service) at hand? There seems to be the idea that there are 'higher' management activities that require these abstract data, which I suggest is an illusion. It only emphasizes the disconnect between management and the user servicing the customer.

Information makes no sense when delivered in abstract form and disconnected from the business activity. Information has to be provided in real world entities and in document form in a business context that a user can relate to. Therefore data consolidation and content creation have to go hand in hand in the support of customer focused business services or processes.

Moving and transforming legacy data into different warehousing entities with data propagation and consolidation confuses the pragmatic business user. Data must be assembled from real-time sources in an approach that is called federation. Federation implies that each coordinated entity retains its freedom to perform as necessary rather than forcing all IT and organization components into a straightjacket. An imbedded authorization model provides the user with the flexibility to do with the information what is necessary.

The need to develop a complex data integration strategy is a completely unnecessary overhead caused by a technical data warehousing approach. Data federation has to be linked with content federation in a publish and subscribe manner. Metadata and meta-information must be searchable by business user and offer information about the business context of data.

Large software vendors such as IBM and Oracle propose grand data warehousing solutions that require huge and expensive projects that in the end do no more than to tie the business user in an IT (usually produced and run by an external outsourcer) straightjacket.

Data federation has to be linked with creating user oriented, customer focused business services that improve the quality of operations directly and are not just concerned with gathering abstract data in the highest possible quality that then has to be applied in again an abstract manner by people who don't understand the meaning of the data.

At we chose data and service federation as the right approach and can give agile corporations the freedom to create the business services needed to serve customer the best. We believe in bringing IT closer to the user and the user closer to the customer! Business Intelligence does exactly the opposite.

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