Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Database

Just the other night I dreamed that I purchased a book called "HTML for Dummies" (not sure that this title even exists) in the hopes that I could take over our company's website updating. Even in my dreams I'm sick of relying on someone else to make minor updates, add newsletters, whitepapers, etc. I want to do it myself.

Then, today, I read this recap of a speech given by Donald Feinberg, a Gartner analyst who spoke at the Teradata Partner conference. The article from "IT Business" states: "The relationship between IT and business is changing says a Gartner analyst, and IT must follow business' lead." It goes on to relate how business is no longer willing to accept whatever database their IT group provides to them.

The point of the speech was to encourage IT people and others responsible for database design to think about rebuilding database systems to accommodate changing business needs. "Speaking at Partners, the annual user conference of data warehousing vendor Teradata, Donald Feinberg said companies need to start paying closer attention to their data warehouses. Feinberg, a vice-president and distinguished analyst with the research firm, said if your data warehouse is more than 10 years old it's going to need to be replaced to empower today's workforce."

He went on to warn his audience of DBAs and IT folk that if they weren't proactive in meeting business needs, the business users will simply build tools themselves. With ever-increasing tools that the average business-person can easily use and understand, it's easier than ever to take control, as opposed to waiting on IT. "There was a time IT could give any old program to the business side and they'd have to use it, but not anymore. Noting Excel 2007 allows one million rows, he said people can get by without a database, and can even run SAS analytics against Excel spreadsheets."

And, with the fact that young adults entering the workforce are technology-proficient and used to figuring out how to make a computer do what they need it to do, this 'do-it-yourself', can-do attitude is a trend that will only continue to grow.

As a self-proclaimed control-freak, I'm all for this movement! I've worked on so many projects that were derailed simply because we had to rely on IT to pull data. When we finally did get the data, it was out-of-date or suspect. It would be nirvana to be able to grab control, and get easy access to customer data. Think of the quick and dirty analysis that could be performed. Ah, the customer insight that could be gained! And, all without any IT request or intervention. Wow!

Of course, this scenario may not be realistic for super large organizations that maintain highly sensitive data, and lots of it (like a large financial institution). But, I'm liking this trend. Anything that gets data closer to the business user is a good thing.


stock market for dummies said...

nice writing, unfortunately theres always a different rule for the big companies

Nancy Arter said...

Thanks for the comment! Yep, you're right -- however, it'll be interesting to see what happens to big companies who don't embrace this new way of thinking. Companies who insist on putting up barriers to accomplishing goals will find themselves with a whole different set of problems, I think.