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The perfect DW, BI plan

There's a set of skills that CIOs and DBAs alike should acquire in order to meet the demands of merging business and IT operations.

BOSTON -- A paradigm shift in the IT world is requiring technology professionals and company executives share the same data warehouse (DW) and business intelligence (BI) visions.

At The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) conference last week, keynote speaker Robert Kaplan outlined a way for companies to make the transition. Kaplan, who co-founded Balanced Scorecard Collaborative Inc., a consulting and training firm in Lincoln, Mass., said that many companies are seizing upon the Balanced Scorecard method.

Business IT alignment will be a hot topic over the next five years.

Robert Kaplan, co-founder, Balanced Scorecard Collaborative Inc


"Business IT alignment will be a hot topic over the next five years," Kaplan said, adding that companies used to get competitive advantages through physical and financial assets, but now the focus is on less tangible assets, such as IT and customer relationships.

"What's new (with this paradigm) is that revenue growth doesn't come from plugging numbers in a spreadsheet. You need to know how to increase the customer base by 9%, or how to get 9% of customers to buy more," Kaplan said. This can only come from understanding the customer through successful data warehousing and business intelligence (DW/BI), Kaplan said.

But most business and IT teams lack a common language or vision, he said.

Kaplan's sentiment was echoed by other experts and users at the conference.

"Technology alone is never going to get you [to successful data warehousing]," said Matthew Bates, senior principal of Knights Bridge Solutions LLC in Chicago, during his session, "Data warehousing and beyond."


"We [business executives] need to be in the driver's seat or in the navigator's seat, or at least be able to get into the car," Bates said. "If you're not, you're in trouble." To stay out of trouble, Bates encouraged company executives to address the four following skill sets:

Technical skills Technical skills are never going away, Bates said. These include how to access and manage data and understand BI infrastructures.

Business skills Pair a BI person with a salesperson, so the technical team acquires business skills.

Analytics skills You should have applied statistical knowledge so you know which stats to test -- and how to read results.

Professional credentials Look for MBAs with an IT concentration, people who have completed DW/BI graduate programs or non-vendor certifications such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's information quality certification program.

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