Are you the kind of person that believes “quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur”? You might not know what it means – neither did I, but I had heard this term bandied about every now and again, and when I googled it (I never studied Latin at school), I had to agree – “whatever said in Latin, seems profound”. On the same Wikipedia page I scanned the lists of other Latin sayings. It struck me that part of the reason these terms seem so profound is probably because they are! Nearly all the Latin notable phrases had a ring of wisdom and truth. In fact, Wikipedia tells us that many of these sayings were translated from the more ancient Greek rhetoric, and so the wisdom was passed from one culture to another – and currently we are its modern beneficiaries. A lot of these aphorisms are equally as pertinent today as they were back in Roman times, including for those of us working in BI.
Not that the ancient Romans and Greeks were using computerised BI solutions, but their civilisations produced some of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known, with flashes of acute genius in problem solving abilities, (think Archimedes), and long traditions of philosophy and mathematics (everyone remembers Pythagoras, however good or bad they were at Maths). It’s hardly surprising that we still find their general life observations relevant – not only their discoveries of universal constants.
But maybe there are what I call “BI Constants” too. Three sayings in particular stood out as having a resonance for me, as mottos for our industry. “Ordo ab chao” – “order from chaos”, “ex professo” – “with due competence” (said of the person who perfectly knows his art or science) and “veritate duce progredi” – “advancing with truth leading”.
“Ordo ab chao” – we make the complex simple and incorporate your business rules.
When we start a BI project, as consultants we are often faced with multiple systems, feeding through so many different data sets into the clients’ current reporting. There are usually harassed and frustrated people within the organisation who have to analyse what the data is telling them by manually grabbing bits of data from one place, adding other bits to it piecemeal, then applying different business rules based on their roles. Think of a Sales Manager who is trying to apply different commissions to Sales Team members, according to rules based on date of sale, territory or customer type, for example.
We help them cut through the myriad of mismatched data sets by integrating the relevant sections together, using consistent algorithms, definitions and descriptions. We apply their business rules in an automatic, dynamic transformation phase. We provide mechanisms and security features that allow them to get at the data they need when they need it. They access it in a view that is personally tailored, via whatever interface and device suits them best, be they in the office or on the road.
The endless cycle of data heartache, week on week, month on month, year on year is broken. The complexity and chaos of multiple data sources is replaced by the simplicity and order of a BI solution.
“Ex professo” – we deliver industry and technology expertise.
Any great technology’s weakest link can be the skills of the people using it. A tool in the wrong hands can be dangerous. So we aim to pass on our knowledge and skills to develop our clients’ staff into becoming valuable in-house BI assets.
Our key experts have held management positions in the various industries we work with as consultants, as well as having enormous expertise in the latest BI techniques. This means that we can very quickly get a new BI project off the ground, having the understanding and experience to deliver workable applications within only a few days.
We help new clients solve their pain points initially during a proof of concept phase, then as true professors would do, we nurture our students and pass on as much knowledge as they are capable of taking in, so that they become as capable and imaginative as the technology encourages them to be. This shared expertise allows them to quickly get the best out of their BI investment and develop insights into further areas of the business.
“Veritate duce progredi” – we deliver trustworthy data, to advance your business.
Data governance is really part of Master Data Management, which is only really achieved by a strong, empowered Data Manager or Steward, and a technological means of implementing their agreed designated standards and business process rules.
The best way of creating a Master Data set when there are competing systems with different definitions, is to appoint a human being who is responsible for deciding which version and process is the one that will be adopted and used throughout the company for reporting purposes. This is not a once–off task – it requires ongoing, careful monitoring and forceful implementation.
For instance, there may be many versions of a product file in a retail company – local branch versions, stock system, EPOS system and finance system, so it makes sense to decide on a Master Product file, for example, the one in the central EPOS system. As a business process it may also be agreed that a Product must be entered in to each of those databases with a particular departmental hierarchy.
In this case there are two elements that must be adhered to, but are each open to error. If someone creates a report using product descriptions from say, the stock file, this might not match the hierarchy of the EPOS file. Or if a new product is entered into the EPOS file with the wrong or blank department, then the Master Product file will no longer be accurate. So as long as a company takes on new products, managing the Master files is a task that will always be ongoing.
This is where the technology plays its part. Using a BI platform, one of the advantages is that you can automatically create matches between all the different systems by relating them to the central Master Product file (or Customer File, or Supplier File, etc). You don’t need to go to the massive expense and trouble of migrating all your systems into a new integrated ERP system that leaves little room for flexibility.
The ongoing monitoring by the Data Steward is made simple by the creation of exception reports – so if new products are entered without all the relevant categories, or with the wrong categories, these can immediately be picked up by the Data Steward and corrected in the Master file as well as the other databases.
By providing the BI tools, and helping clients to set up automated Master file and exception routines, together with a Data Steward we create an unshakeable data foundation that allows them to make business-critical decisions based on a single version of the truth.
Non adeo delirant, isti Romani!
Maybe you might want to find a few more aphorisms that relate to you – this is the list I found.
The Truth Stone, Rome
Blog post by Debbie Lonsdale, DBI. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Lonsdale has been working with the Diver Solution as a BI Consultant at Dynamic Business Informatics since 2008. Her previous experience includes computer programming, analytical and technical roles, team management, account management, sales and marketing in a variety of market sectors, including the Travel Industry and Distribution. She combines this experience as an all round ICT professional in the BI sector.