I recently had the fortune of taking a wonderful road trip with the family, but I also had the misfortune of getting caught in Washington D.C. traffic and spending over an hour in a tunnel moving a car length every 5 minutes. As the kids helpfully pointed out, it was light out when we entered the tunnel and dark as midnight when we finally began to emerge. As for my wife, “this is my nightmare” was the most positive comment she could muster about the situation. So I had a very real experience of tunnel vision: it was hard to think about the fun we had already had on the trip and plan for what points of interest we would visit the next day when all we could think about when we would see the light at the end of the literal tunnel.
Tunnel vision is what Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and Business Intelligence (BI) teams fall victim to far too regularly. The tyranny of the urgent dictates what we focus on. We have failed loads that need to be fixed (NOW!), data quality issues that need to be addressed, newly prioritized requests we need to tend to, and the list goes on. There just isn’t time to do anything but react.
When the EDW/BI initiative is new, everybody on the team feels like a hero because of all the praise they get since the organization is being served information like never before, but unfortunately that fades quickly. Gifts and miracles soon become expectations, and before long the team is getting “bad press” because they are not turning around requests quickly enough, they are neglecting certain departments (or the smaller hospitals or the entire clinic division), and people don’t know what they are up to.
In this blog series I intend to share some key reminders to EDW/BI teams that will help you maintain success and customer satisfaction going forward. In summary, there are 5 tips that I think are both very important and often neglected:
- Master the basics – Everywhere we go we hear the same thing, no matter how sophisticated the organization’s analytics environment: “I can’t even get basic volumes”. By all means do R&D, but make sure you don’t move past basic business intelligence before it serves the whole organization.
- Don’t neglect marketing – Perhaps the main reason we hear the complaint described in point #1 is due to the simple fact that people don’t know what is available. There might be the perfect report or dashboard for them, but they don’t know about it. This is where marketing comes in.
- Pull back the curtain on your EDW – Too often EDW/BI teams are threatened by the idea of making their business logic (code) transparent to the organization as it might place them under greater scrutiny and allow other groups in the organization such as analysts to chip away at their job security. In actuality, transparency will serve you well in the long run.
- Share the load – Frankly, EDW/BI teams can’t keep up with the demand for their services and they need to solicit help from others in the organization to actually develop the EDW and BI offerings. I’ll talk about how to make this happen.
- Attend to regular check-ups – As difficult as it is with all the demands on our time, we have to find time to go back and refactor, improve, and reevaluate. If we don’t, we’ll get eaten up by competing solutions.
We will address each of these points over the next several weeks, so stay tuned!