Podcast: Key Success Factors for Optimizing Data Warehouse Business Value
In this podcast a data warehousing expert discusses critical success factors for establishing optimal data warehouse business value.
“Changing the IT management of data from a cost center to a profit center is key to a successful business today.” – Jeff Devlin
Podcast Summary: Today, data warehouses and analytical applications drive strategic and tactical decision making, and revenue and profitability growth. They are critical business assets that companies can’t afford not to get right. Listen to this podcast to learn from a data warehousing expert about the essential best practices to ensure data warehouses and analytic applications meet the needs of business. This means understanding the data in the data warehouse, what is its real value to the business users, how do you enable the business users to leverage it to generate more value for the business, and what are the tools data warehouse and analytics professionals use to achieve these objectives.
Podcast Show Notes
Chris Doolittle: Welcome to Teleran’s Information Intelligence podcast program. This is the first of two podcasts on key success factors for optimizing and protecting the business value of analytics and data warehousing. Today, data warehouses drive strategic and tactical decision making. They are critical business assets that companies can’t afford not to get right.
In this podcast you will learn from a data warehousing expert about the essential best practices to ensure data warehouses and analytic applications meet the needs of business. This means understanding the data in the data warehouse, what is its real value to the business users, how do you enable the business users to leverage it to generate more value for the business, and what are the tools data warehouse and analytics professionals use to achieve these objectives.
I’m Chris Doolittle, VP of marketing and product management at Teleran, a data visibility and protection software company. Today I’m here with Jeff Devlin. Jeff is an IT executive with over 30 years’ experience developing and managing a wide range of enterprise applications, data architectures and systems that companies including TIAA, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Jeff has been instrumental in the success of data warehousing and business intelligence applications across a variety of financial services businesses including retail banking, investment firms, and securities brokers.
Jeff also has a distinguished record of building strong relationships with business management to make sure that the IT investments he manages meet business needs. I’ve known Jeff for over 10 years starting when he first became a Teleran customer and I’m thrilled to be speaking with him again today. Jeff welcome to the podcast.
Jeff Devlin: Thanks Chris. Glad to be here.
The Challenges of Managing Data To Ensure Better Business Decisions
Chris Doolittle: Terrific. Jeff we’ve seen the huge growth of data that organizations generate and attempt to analyze in data warehouses and analytical applications. With these huge data volumes, how are organizations effectively managing this vast resource to get what they need to make better decisions about their business?
Jeff Devlin: It certainly has been an interesting process to absorb and manage all this data. Data has grown exponentially as IT has gotten more and more sophisticated with data management. The first thing you have to keep in mind is that the business brings to bear a great deal of knowledge about the data, about how the business runs. As you know, IT needs to embrace that. We need to work cooperatively with the business, and, also understand our data. Data can be leveraged. It should be looked at as a data asset, as a corporate asset, as a financial asset.
Data analytics is transforming the world. The more data you have, the more complex that gets, but it’s a means to an end. Changing the IT management of data from a cost center to a profit center is key to a successful business, and businesses that are realizing that profit have a cooperative effort between the business and IT and that is so important.
It’s Critical to Bridge IT and Business
Chris Doolittle: What are some of the most critical challenges of managing all this data in data warehouses in the context of the business objectives you just described?
Jeff Devlin: If we put aside for the moment the technical management of the data, what we see happening is the need to bridge the business understanding to IT, to the folks that are charged with managing the data from a physical standpoint. Working cooperatively with the business, establishing data governance best practices and working hand in hand with the business to understand that data, understand what it does, what its meaning is, is critical to your success.
Jeff Devlin: As I said earlier the world of analytics is changing everything about the way we do business, about the way we think of data, about the way we analyze where that data came from, where it needs to be and how we can leverage it to market our company, to make our company more profitable and to move forward in a very positive and productive manner. We need to manage and leverage business with an understanding that we are all working together. Once you accomplish that, which is not easy to do, given the internal politics of companies, and people being very territorial. But, once you overcome that in managing data you will be very successful.
IT As A Key Business Resource, Not A Utility
Chris Doolittle: That’s really interesting. So, we’ve seen that in various organizations where there’s stove piping and barriers between different business functions and departments within IT. Jeff, what are some of the methods that you’ve established successfully to bridge this gap? How do you approach the business and start introducing this idea of a real partnership with the line of business?
Jeff Devlin: Well, if you have the opportunity to build a team that co-mingles business folks and IT folks and folks that specialize in data and work together to establish very solid workable data governance routines, that is the basis. It’s the foundation for being successful. Then you can embrace tools like what Teleran has. You can take a look at some of the big data complexity and how that moves you towards the end game. Analytics is very important, but in order to be successful you have to understand that data.
Companies are mining the data, they are building very robust business intelligence practices out there with software, and it becomes obvious that it’s the people power. It’s the joint co-operative effort between the business and IT folks that make projects like that successful. And you can run the gamut from a data mart to a data warehouse to a data lake to big data, and if you don’t have that fundamental foundation built with cooperation between the business and IT you’re not going to have an easy road to success.
I can’t emphasize enough, where I’ve been successful there has been incredible cooperation between the business and their knowledge and IT and their knowledge to build out a strategy that will make business intelligence, business analytics a very successful endeavor.
Chris Doolittle: That’s really very interesting Jeff. What I’m hearing you say is that IT can no longer just position itself as a utility for the business, in other words just, “I’ll provide the data, I’ll provide the systems that support the data and you, the business go and analyze the data anywhere you want.” It sounds like that model no longer works, is that true?
Jeff Devlin: Yeah that’s been my experience. You need to have business there with you. They understand the manipulations that they go through with data, and the evolution of that data store. There might have been compromises, there might have been customizations and IT might not be in a position to understand all of that. So, you really need to work with the business to get to that point, and that cooperation is key. It definitely has to be the first step before you even take a look at what you want, what your underlying engineering should be, what products you need, what type of analytics products you need, what you need to do to protect the data, to understand the access is, you need to build and spend the time to build that relationship between the business and IT.
Speak Business, Not IT
Chris Doolittle: One of the things that I’ve observed in my career is that often the IT staff speaks a different language than the business, and the business is focused on, for example, how well their products are selling, how the market is responding to their product promotions. How do you bridge that language gap?
Jeff Devlin: Yet again it comes back to building that foundation, data governance and understanding the rules of the road. What is the business attempting to accomplish? When it comes down to it, they are the folks that are going to fund these projects. So you need to understand the business strategy, short term, long term, what data is available, what data isn’t available, is it unstructured data, is it structured? Where can we get it?
But don’t encumber the business with all the IT issues. Get to talk to them about what are you trying to do. What are they trying to accomplish with all this data? Help me help you, because I can leverage all of the engineering to make you successful, to allow you to do market analysis, to allow you to do business intelligence, to allow you to do profitability analysis. To build these algorithms for you that will give you the information, the analytics that you need to be successful in the marketplace.
Chris Doolittle: So, what are some of the KPIs and tools that you’ve used that help you understand when you’re being successful?
Jeff Devlin: That comes in two flavors, one is the technical piece having to do with performance. The performance of the access, tuning, uptime, recovery from outages and all the technical aspects. Also, who’s touching what? There is a lot of pressure with IT to protect that data, and it makes sense with all the breaches we’ve had, both internal and external. I don’t have to go through that, but working with a product like Teleran, will give you, the business, and the auditors the confidence that that the huge amount of corporate data assets are protected.
From a business standpoint, how can I leverage this data, how can I leverage the analytics, how can I be competitive against company A, B and C? How can I position my company to mine this data, to use the business analytics to make rock-solid decisions on profitability, and offering products that the consumer is going to be very interested. That’s the challenge, but I can tell you now, many companies are successful at that, that’s why I encourage my teams to embrace data, embrace it not as a cost center, but as a profit center.
There’s a lot of knowledge in data, so let’s be smart about how we leverage that, how we understand it, and how we extract from volumes and volumes of data, what we need to be successful and to be profitable as a company. And, again that brings me back to my theme that it’s a cooperative effort between the business and IT.
Chris Doolittle: Very powerful. This is terrific. Thank you Jeff. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and learnings with us today. Creating and managing data warehouses that generate real business value has its challenges but as we’ve heard from you, you’ve given us some of the most important success factors that can ensure those business benefits get delivered to the business. Do that and business management will thank you.
Chris Doolittle: To our listeners thank you for joining us today, stay tuned for our second podcast with Jeff Devlin, where he will be discussing the special challenges of protecting sensitive data from hacking, breaches and misuse in data intensive and dynamic environments like data warehouses and analytical applications. Thanks again Jeff.
Jeff Devlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Doolittle can be reached at email@example.com.
Chris is VP Marketing and a co-founder of Teleran. He has over 30 years’ experience in helping companies manage, leverage and protect their business-critical information.