Friday, December 29, 2006

Articles/Blogs of the Week: 12/29/2006

Every week, we try to outline the best articles and blogs from the past week. Below are the articles/blogs for this week:
  • Business Unintelligence: I stumbled upon this brief article. Though short, I've added it to this list because of its argument of what "real-time" should mean in BI. Simply, "real time should mean now, not some time in the future, when the data is extracted, loaded, re-consolidated and then inquired upon." In other words, "real time" data is data available immediately. If there is a change in the source, it must be reflected in the reports immediately to be considered real-time. Not 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 hours later.
  • The Information Black Hole: This is a rather detailed study of why BI is not delivering the value it should in the UK. I found it interesting.
  • Personas, Customer Value, Customer Retention and Non-line Marketing: This article from the "Occam’s Razor" blog provides some segmentation examples and ideas on how to represent an organization's capabilities vs. customer expectations.
  • Business intelligence expert predictions for 2007: Predictions from "experts" on what 2007 will bring.

Have a Happy New Year from your friends at Thoughts on Business Intelligence


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top IT Departments Pay More

Many who read my previous posts that say we should pay really good BI developers and analysts more money, understandably had a common response: "Sounds good, but how do I know it will work and how do I convince my boss that it is the right thing to do."

One item for you to use as evidence: According to Intelligent Enterprise, "While the top IT organizations have 24% fewer full-time employees than median organizations, those smaller staffs are generally paid about 24% more than IT professionals at the other companies, says Holland. "

Look at the article -- it is a good one. These "Top" companies pay the good ones more and lose the bad ones. And they are better for it. Not a bad strategy.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Stat of the Week -- 12/26/2006

This Week's Stats are from the Business Intelligence area:

53% of companies surveyed plan to implement front-end query and reporting services in the next 12 months.

37% plan to implement dashboards and scorecards, the close brethren of query/reporting services.

34% plan will take the dashboards and scorecards to the next level with alerts and notifications.

Source: Intelligent Enterprise, based on research from Ventana Research.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Goes for Business / Systems Analysts, too

In my last post, I mentioned that good developers do not necessarily need/want a promotion to a manager/architect position, just because they are the best developers. Perhaps for some -- paying them more is all that is required.

Responses I've heard from various individuals disagree with me. The main theme in these disagreements is this: With the increased use of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to comform with the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), developers are called upon to do less and less. This is because SDLC and CMM call for proper and complete documentation. This requires the developer to simply implement what has already been throught through for him/her. So, it stands to reason, you do not need strong developers because the analyst work is already completed. Implementing it is the easy part.

My first response: Due to the poor quality of many of the technical specifications and design, you still need good developers who can work through bad design and documentation. So, my original sentiment holds true. Our industry does not have the quality of analyst required.

My second response: Pay your best analysts more, too! In othe words, take my previous article and replace the word "developer" with "analyst" and I think it still holds true. Find you best analysts and -- if it is in-line with the career path -- do not necessarily promote them, but pay them more.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why promote the good developers? Just pay them more. It's worth it.

There is an interesting trend I've seen in my days as a Big X consultant as well as a full-time Project Manager. We are running way low on good programmers. This is a result of several things:

  • The general dumbing down of America. Video games, instant message and e-mail (among other things) have created much shorter attention spans and lower work ethic. This causes us to have less smart people.
  • IT careers and programming are not sexy anymore. For those smart young people that do exist, they no longer want a career in IT. I think this article described it best. Basically, our funnel is drying up because there is no longer the intrigue or challenge perceived in development and IT, as there once was. In other words, "kids today view managing computer environments as boring and tactical."
  • There is a language barrier for some foreign programmers. Number 1 and 2 causes a US shortage that is now being filled by talented foreign developers. I believe foreign programmers will fill the gap in the next 20-30 years. However, there is still a language barrier (for many), preventing a complete fulfillment of the gap.
  • We promote the good ones.

Of these four, the typical manager has immediate control over only #4.

In my experience, good programmers rarely make good managers and architects. I would also contend that many would prefer remaining programmers. However, there is also a shortage of good managers and architects so organizations feel compelled to fill these roles, as well. But here's the rub: If you promote good programmers who are required to manager and architect solutions that mediocre developers will create (since we promoted all the good ones), then the whole project, program or IT organization will fail or have severe challenges.

What's the solution? There are a couple of them:

  1. Make sure the promotion of the programmer is in-line with the individuals desires. When discussed with the individual, make sure compensation is removed from the equation (see next bullet). Does the individual want a different role/promotion because they desire it or because they desire to make more money? The answer to this question is the only on you need, assuming you are capable of bullet #2.
  2. Pay your best programmers and analysts well. The GE model for employee recognition works with developers and analysts: Concentrate most of your time, attention and money on the best ones, at the expense of the bad ones. Why give even a cost-of-living increase to a poor employee, when you could provide that money to a good employee? You want a bad developer / analyst to leave the organization in order to make room in the budget for the next good one.

Remember, if you promote your best developer you just lost your best development skill. One could argue that doing so allows that individual to mentor, train and coach others making the whole team more productive. I disagree. Most of the developers I've met in my career are terrible mentors, trainers and coaches -- just as they are bad managers and architects.