Jill Dyche on 2012

In part 3 of the series for predictions for 2012, here is Jill Dyche, Baseline Consulting/DataFlux.

Part 2 was Timo Elliot, SAP at http://www.decisionstats.com/timo-elliott-on-2012/ and Part 1 was Jim Kobielus, Forrester at http://www.decisionstats.com/jim-kobielus-on-2012/

Ajay: What are the top trends you saw happening in 2011?


Well, I hate to say I saw them coming, but I did. A lot of managers committed some pretty predictable mistakes in 2011. Here are a few we witnessed in 2011 live and up close:


1.       In the spirit of “size matters,” data warehouse teams continued to trumpet the volumes of stored data on their enterprise data warehouses. But a peek under the covers of these warehouses reveals that the data isn’t integrated. Essentially this means a variety of heterogeneous virtual data marts co-located on a single server. Neat. Big. Maybe even worthy of a magazine article about how many petabytes you’ve got. But it’s not efficient, and hardly the example of data standardization and re-use that everyone expects from analytical platforms these days.


2.       Development teams still didn’t factor data integration and provisioning into their project plans in 2011. So we saw multiple projects spawn duplicate efforts around data profiling, cleansing, and standardization, not to mention conflicting policies and business rules for the same information. Bummer, since IT managers should know better by now. The problem is that no one owns the problem. Which brings me to the next mistake…


3.       No one’s accountable for data governance. Yeah, there’s a council. And they meet. And they talk. Sometimes there’s lunch. And then nothing happens because no one’s really rewarded—or penalized for that matter—on data quality improvements or new policies. And so the reports spewing from the data mart are still fraught and no one trusts the resulting decisions.


But all is not lost since we’re seeing some encouraging signs already in 2012. And yes, I’d classify some of them as bona-fide trends.


Ajay: What are some of those trends?


Job descriptions for data stewards, data architects, Chief Data Officers, and other information-enabling roles are becoming crisper, and the KPIs for these roles are becoming more specific. Data management organizations are being divorced from specific lines of business and from IT, becoming specialty organizations—okay, COEs if you must—in their own rights. The value proposition for master data management now includes not just the reconciliation of heterogeneous data elements but the support of key business strategies. And C-level executives are holding the data people accountable for improving speed to market and driving down costs—not just delivering cleaner data. In short, data is becoming a business enabler. Which, I have to just say editorially, is better late than never!


Ajay: Anything surprise you, Jill?


I have to say that Obama mentioning data management in his State of the Union speech was an unexpected but pretty powerful endorsement of the importance of information in both the private and public sector.


I’m also sort of surprised that data governance isn’t being driven more frequently by the need for internal and external privacy policies. Our clients are constantly asking us about how to tightly-couple privacy policies into their applications and data sources. The need to protect PCI data and other highly-sensitive data elements has made executives twitchy. But they’re still not linking that need to data governance.


I should also mention that I’ve been impressed with the people who call me who’ve had their “aha!” moment and realize that data transcends analytic systems. It’s operational, it’s pervasive, and it’s dynamic. I figured this epiphany would happen in a few years once data quality tools became a commodity (they’re far from it). But it’s happening now. And that’s good for all types of businesses.



Jill Dyché has written three books and numerous articles on the business value of information technology. She advises clients and executive teams on leveraging technology and information to enable strategic business initiatives. Last year her company Baseline Consulting was acquired by DataFlux Corporation, where she is currently Vice President of Thought Leadership. Find her blog posts on www.dataroundtable.com.

Interview Scott Gidley CTO and Founder, DataFlux

Here is an interview with Scott Gidley, CTO and co-founder of leading data quality ccompany DataFlux . DataFlux is a part of SAS Institute and in 2011 acquired Baseline Consulting besides launching the latest version of their Master Data Management  product. Continue reading “Interview Scott Gidley CTO and Founder, DataFlux”

Short Interview Jill Dyche

Here is brief one question interview with Jill Dyche , founder Baseline Consulting.


In 2010.


  • It was more about consciousness-raising in the executive suite—
  • getting C-level managers to understand the ongoing value proposition of BI,
  • why MDM isn’t their father’s database, and
  • how data governance can pay for itself over time.
  • Some companies succeeded with these consciousness-raising efforts. Some didn’t.


But three big ones in 2011 would be:

  1. Predictive analytics in the cloud. The technology is now ready, and so is the market—and that includes SMB companies.
  2. Enterprise search being baked into (commoditized) BI software tools. (The proliferation of static reports is SO 2006!)
  3. Data governance will begin paying dividends. Until now it was all about common policies for data. In 2011, it will be about ROI.

I do a “Predictions for the coming year” article every January for TDWI,

Note- Jill ‘s January TDWI article seems worth waiting for in this case.



Partner and Co-Founder

Jill Dyché is a partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting.  She is responsible for key client strategies and market analysis in the areas of data governance, business intelligence, master data management, and customer relationship management. 

Jill counsels boards of directors on the strategic importance of their information investments.


Jill is the author of three books on the business value of IT. Jill’s first book, e-Data (Addison Wesley, 2000) has been published in eight languages. She is a contributor to Impossible Data Warehouse Situations: Solutions from the Experts (Addison Wesley, 2002), and her book, The CRM Handbook (Addison Wesley, 2002), is the bestseller on the topic. 

Jill’s work has been featured in major publications such as Computerworld, Information Week, CIO Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek.com. Jill’s latest book, Customer Data Integration (John Wiley and Sons, 2006) was co-authored with Baseline partner Evan Levy, and shows the business breakthroughs achieved with integrated customer data.

Industry Expert

Jill is a featured speaker at industry conferences, university programs, and vendor events. She serves as a judge for several IT best practice awards. She is a member of the Society of Information Managementand Women in Technology, a faculty member of TDWI, and serves as a co-chair for the MDM Insight conference. Jill is a columnist for DM Review, and a blogger for BeyeNETWORK and Baseline Consulting.


Interview Evan Levy Baseline Consulting

Here is an interview with Evan Levy, founder of one of the best and most practical business consultancy Baseline Consulting. The lower the bull-shit the better the consultant ( forgive my ….) Read here why Baseline’s frank and fast technology acumen have made it a rising star in the this fast growing field.

Businesses realize that there’s more to information delivery than just distributing reports; companies rely on data analysis to support operational decision making.- Evan Levy

Ajay- Describe your career in science and technology.

Evan Levy- My formal “science and technology career” started during college. I received degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Duke University. While in school, I had several programming jobs both on and off campus: a systems integration team within a large government contractor; a research study within the Psychology Department; and the university Computation Center. After graduation, I worked at a database computer startup (Teradata) for several years beforeco-founding Baseline Consulting. I’ve been here 18 years.

Ajay- How would help solve the problem of chronic technology worker shortage in the United States?.

Evan- I think the “technology worker shortage” in the US is a problem with multiple facets. I don’t think it can be addressed simply by “throwing bodies” at the problem. I tend to view IT as two distinct areas: processing operations and information delivery. Processing operations includes the development and maintenance of all of the operational computing platforms (applications, mainframes, servers, desktop systems, processing infrastructure, etc.) Information delivery focuses on a company’s data and the associated integration and analytical infrastructure (data integration, analysis tools, processing platforms, etc.)

There’s been a fundamental shift in operational systems development over the past 15 years. The belief that most companies had unique, specialized business processes requiring custom developed applications proved unrealistic. The costs, resources, and long timelines associated with these activities weren’t practical in today’s business environment. Most companies have been willing to shift to “packaged applications” that allowed them to evaluate and trade business process customization for time. This has caused skills within development teams to change dramatically; the need for business process and data analysis skills has exploded.

The growth and adoption of business analysis as a core business capability has also changed the approach to technology development. The time of distributing standard reports across the company in the weekly or monthly format simply isn’t sufficient any more. Businesses realize that there’s more to information delivery than just distributing reports; companies rely on data analysis to support operational decision making. Detailed data analysis and exception reporting isn’t a luxury, it’s become part of the core business functions required by most companies. This has caused business users to become much more sophisticated in data analysis – and it has caused a need for IT to expand their focus from simply providing applications to having to provide detailed data to business users.

I think these two changes have caused a significant shift in the “technology worker shortage”. I don’t think we’re living in the time where the application is the key business asset for companies. I think folk are beginning to realize that the key asset is data. The only way to address the backlog in applications is to fundamentally shift how we approach the problem. Our users are learning to solve their problems with desktop tools; we need to be able to deliver detailed data to them in a more efficient manner.

The only way to address this challenge is for the technology worker to become educated on their users’ business practices and methods. I don’t think throwing thousands of programmers at the issue will solve the current problem. I think we need to capitalize on the skills that already exist within our user communities and position IT resources to make them more self sufficient. I don’t think there’s any short cut to building and maintaining operational applications; programmers will always be needed for that. However, in the growth area of business and data analysis, I think we need to take an entirely different tact. We need to make users more self-sufficient with data.

Ajay- Unemployment in the United States is now touching 10 % yet millions of jobs that went overseas remain there. How good or bad has the technology sector been affected by offshoring compared to other sectors.

Evan- I’m no economist, so I’m afraid I can’t offer much of an opinion regarding the impact of offshoring technology jobs. I do know that in business, there will always be a desire to build and deliver products in as cost-efficient a manner as possible. We’ve seen numerous industries expand through offshoring and outsourcing. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the technology industry is maturing in much the same manner as every other industry. We all expect companies to stay competitive through managing costs; offshoring and outsourcing is an accepted practice.

I think the impact to offshoring and outsourcing will continue to impact the technology sector. We continue to see companies reevaluate their technology investments. As some technologies mature, evolve, and become commodities, I suspect we’ll continue to see jobs associated with those technologies to be outsourcd.

I think the challenge to those of us that work within the technology industry is to continually invest and grow our skills. As any industry matures, the products transition from being specialized to commodities. Look at the internet and web applications and tools. Prior to 2000, building even a simple website proved expensive and resource intensive. Today, most anyone with fundamental pc skills can build their own website. This industry has collapsed in size – but many continue in that space because they’ve grown and expanded their skills. A look at the sophistication of today’s websites reflects this shift.

Ajay- What data solutions would you recommend for the United States government to better channel its stimulus spending.

Evan- I actually think the government has taken an interesting approach with some aspects of the current stimulus spending. I can’t remember when it was possible for any of us to quickly determine where and how federal money was distributed. Today, there are several websites that provide detailed information identifying individual projects and their related funding levels. I wish this type of detailed data was made available for federal spending related to Hurricane Katrina, or the activities in Iraq or Afghanistan. It would provide clarity to where our tax dollars go and raise visibility to the inappropriate distribution of funds.

It think it would be valuable that any and all government spending to be made available to the public in a simple online manner.

Ajay- Do you think Business Intelligence is a male dominated sector. If so, why?

Evan- I’m not sure BI is any more male-dominated than any other IT area. But I’ll say one thing: we need more women in IT. It’s not about gender-specific skills or even about unique talents. It’s just about balance and perspective. Some of my best friends are women! Seriously, I think women do bring some cultural and knowledge assets to the table that just make the overall environment better for everyone. The women who work for me are so exceptional that I should probably be working for them.

When it comes to BI, Cindi Howson—a BI thought leader in her own right and someone who knows a LOT about the vendor space—wrote a great blog post about women in BI. It mentions my partner Jill, whom you interviewed a few months ago. Jill and Cindi are only two of a stellar group of women in BI. (I’d call them “BI babes” but I’d be seriously hurt if I did that.) But I think Cindi’s blog says it all.

Ajay- What do you for relaxing? How important are hobbies and family life for busy career professionals.

Evan- I’m a strong believer in the balance of work and play. My colleagues and staff at Baseline work hard with our clients. Many of our client projects require time and travel flexibility that doesn’t align with the traditional 9—5 world. It’s important for individuals to spend time with their friends and families – to enjoy the things that are outside of their jobs. Personally I spend my time volunteering with the YMCA. It’s a life-long cause for me, and the source of many of my best friendships.

Ajay-  What are your views on mis-selling in consulting- selling something which you are not really an expert of. Does this happen in your opinion in BI.

Evan- That’s a pretty interesting question. I’m sure we all know about situations where an aggressive sales person made impractical promises to address business challenges and established unrealistic expectations. Individuals are driven by their company’s incentive system. I find that when a company rewards its team members on client satisfaction and project success (instead of simply the numbers), mis-selling rarely occurs. I often recommend that our clients ask their suppliers how their sales people and client teams are rewarded. We often see those questions in RFPs.

Most of the consulting problems we see aren’t related to aggressive selling, but simply a gap between the requirements and the solution. While this sounds trite – we often find that the solution providers don’t fully understand the problem they are solving. Whether it’s because the problem wasn’t well understood (by the solution provider) or well analyzed and described (by the prospect) is sometimes impossible to determine; it’s usually a combination of both.

Preventing (or limiting) these surprises is very doable; short-term and small deliverables, frequent and thorough project reviews, and measureable acceptance criteria is a good place to start.

I’ll be the first to admit that at Baseline, we’re much better at delivery than we are at sales. This means that we don’t chase deals, but when we get them we deliver. We like to delight our clients. And our consultants really know their stuff. Because of that we have great client references, for which we’re grateful.


Evan Levy is a partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting. Evan has spent his career leading both practitioners and executives in delivering a range of IT solutions. In addition to his executive management responsibilities at Baseline, he regularly oversees high-profile systems integration projects for key clients such as Charles Schwab, Verizon, State of Michigan, and CheckFree.

Evan also advises software vendors in the areas of product planning, and continues to counsel the executive and investment communities in applying advanced technologies to key business initiatives. Evan has been known to shave off his beard on a bet. He can whistle most of the songs in the Sesame Street oeuvre, has a thing for silicone kitchen implements, and helped design the data warehouse at one of those superstores that is inevitably coming to a neighborhood near you.


Evan writes frequently for leading industry publications, focusing on the financial payback of IT investments, architectural best practices, and data integration alternatives. He is a regular online contributor to DMReview.com and SearchDataManagement.com.

Evan is also co-author of the book, Customer Data Integration (John Wiley and Sons, 2006), which describes the business breakthroughs achieved with integrated customer data, and explains how to make CDI work. Evan also writes a regular blog for Baseline http://www.evanjlevy.com/

Industry Leader

Evan has been a thought leader at major industry and vendor conferences, including the American Marketing Association, DAMA International, MDM Summit, MDM Insight, and TechTarget conferences. He is a faculty member of TDWI and delivers regular presentations on data integration alternatives. Recent seminars have focused on the application of emerging technologies and use cases for master data management and data integration solutions.

Baseline Consulting, an acknowledged leader in information design and deployment, helps companies enhance the value of their enterprise data, improve business performance, and achieve self-sufficiency in managing data as a corporate asset. Baseline provides business consulting and technical implementation services in four practice areas: Data Warehousing, Data Integration, Business Analytics, and Data Governance. Founded in 1991 and headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Baseline changes how companies leverage information. To learn more, visit Baseline’s website at www.baseline-consulting.com.

Interview Jill Dyche Baseline Consulting

Here is an interview with Jill Dyche, co-Founder Baseline Consulting and one of the best Business Intelligence consultants and analysts. Her writing is read by huge portion of the industry and has influenced many paradigms.She is also Author of e-Data, The CRM Handbook, and Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth.

BI tools are not recommended when they’re the first topic in a BI discussion.

Jill Dyche, Baseline Consulting

Ajay- What approximate Return of Investment would you give to various vendors within Business Intelligence?

Jill- You don’t kid around do you, Ajay? In general the answer has everything to do with the problem BI is solving for a company. For instance, we’re working on deploying operational BI at a retailer right now. This new program is giving people in the stores more power to make decisions about promotions and in-store events. The projected ROI is $300,000 per store per year—and the retailer has over 1000 stores. In another example, we’re working with an HMO client on a master data management project that helps it reconcile patient data across hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and home health care. The ROI could be life-saving. So, as they say in the Visa commercials: Priceless.

Ajay- What is impact of third party cloud storage and processing do you think will be there on Business Intelligence consulting?

Jill- There’s a lot of buzz about cloud storage for BI, most of it is coming from the VC community at this point, not from our clients. The trouble with that is that BI systems really need control over their storage. There are companies out there—check out a product called RainStor—that do BI storage in the cloud very well, and are optimized for it. But most “cloud” environments geared to BI are really just hosted offerings that provide clients with infrastructure and processing resources that they don’t have in-house.  Where the cloud really has benefits is when it provides significant processing power to companies that can’t build it easily themselves.

Ajay- What are the top writing tips would you give to young struggling business bloggers especially in this recession.

Jill- I’d advise bloggers to write like they talk, a standard admonishment by many a professor of Business Writing. So much of today’s business writing—especially in blogs—is stilted, overly-formal, and pedantic. I don’t care if your grammar is accurate; if your writing sounds like the Monroe Doctrine, no one will read it. (Just give me one quote from the Monroe Doctrine. See what I mean?) Don’t use the word “leverage” when you can use the word “use.” Be genuine and conversational. And avoid clichés like the plague.

Ajay-  How would you convince young people especially women to join more science careers. Describe your own career journey.

Jill- As much as we need those role models in science, high-tech, and math careers, I’d tell them to only embrace it if they really love it. My career path to high-tech was unconventional and unintentional. I started as a technical writer specializing in relational databases just as they were getting hot. One thing I know for sure is if you want to learn about something interesting, be willing to roll up your sleeves and work with it. My technical writing about databases, and then data warehouses, led to some pretty interesting client work.

Sure I’ve coded SQL in my career, and optimized some pretty hairy WHERE clauses. But the bigger issue is applying that work to business problems. Actually I’m grateful that I wasn’t a very good programmer. I’d still be waiting for that infinite loop to finish running.

Ajay- What are the areas within an enterprise where implementation of BI leads to the most gains. And when are BI tools not recommended?

Jill- The best opportunities for BI are for supporting business growth. And that typically means BI used by sales and marketing. Who’s the next customer and what will they buy? It’s answers to questions like these that can set a company apart competitively and contribute to both the top and bottom lines.

Not to be too heretical, but to answer your second question: BI tools are not recommended when they’re the first topic in a BI discussion. We’ve had several “Don’t go into the light” conversations with clients lately where they are prematurely looking at BI tools rather than examining their overall BI readiness. Companies need to be honest about their development processes, existing skill sets, and their data and platform infrastructures before they start phoning up data visualization vendors. Unfortunately, many people engage BI software vendors way before they’re ready.

Ajay- You and your partner Evan wrote what was really the first book on Master Data Management. But you’d been in the BI and data warehousing world before that. Why MDM?

Jill- We just kept watching what our clients couldn’t pull off with their data warehouses. We saw the effort they were going through to enforce business rules through ETL, and what they were trying to do to match records across different source systems. We also saw the amount of manual effort that went into things like handling survivor records, which leads to a series of conversations about data ownership.

Our book (Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, Wiley) has as much to do with data management and data governance as it does with CDI and MDM. As Evan recently said in his presentation at the TDWI MDM Insight event, “You can’t master your data until you manage your data.” We really believe that, and our clients are starting to put it into practice too.

Ajay- Why did you and Evan choose to focus on customer master data (CDI) rather than a more general book on MDM?

Jill- There were two reasons. The first one was because other master data domains like product and location have their own unique sets of definitions and rules. Even though these domains also need MDM, they’re different and the details around implementing them and choosing vendor products to enable them are different. The second reason was that the vast majority of our clients started their MDM programs with customer data. One of Baseline’s longest legacies is enabling the proverbial “360-degree view” of customers. It’s what we knew.

Ajay- What’s surprised you most about your CDI/MDM clients?

Jill- The extent to which they use CDI and MDM as the context for bringing IT and the business closer together. You’d think BI would be ideal for that, and it is. But it’s interesting how MDM lets companies strip back a lot of the tool discussions and just focus on the raw conversations about definitions and rules for business data. Business people get why data is so important, and IT can help guide them in conversations about streamlining data quality and management. Companies like Dell have used MDM for nothing less than business alignment.

Ajay- Any plan to visit India and China for giving lectures?

Jill- I just turned down a trip to China this fall because I had a schedule conflict, which I’m really bummed about. Far as India is concerned, nothing yet but if you’re looking for houseguests let me know.(Ajay- sure I have a big brand new house just ready- and if I visit USA may I be a house guest too?)

About Jill Dyche-

Jill blogs at http://www.jilldyche.com/. where she takes the perpetual challenge of business-IT alignment head on in her trenchant, irreverent style.

Jill Dyché is a partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting. Her role at Baseline is a combination of best-practice expert, industry gadfly, key client advisor, and all-around thought leader. She is responsible for key client strategies and market analysis in the areas of data governance, business intelligence, master data management, and customer relationship management. Jill counsels boards of directors on the strategic importance of their information investments.


Jill is the author of three books on the business value of IT. Jill’s first book, e-Data (Addison Wesley, 2000) has been published in eight languages. She is a contributor to Impossible Data Warehouse Situations: Solutions from the Experts (Addison Wesley, 2002), and her book, The CRM Handbook (Addison Wesley, 2002), is the bestseller on the topic.

Jill’s work has been featured in major publications such as Computerworld, Information Week, CIO Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek.com. Jill’s latest book, Customer Data Integration (John Wiley and Sons, 2006) was co-authored with Baseline partner Evan Levy, and shows the business breakthroughs achieved with integrated customer data.

Industry Expert

Jill is a featured speaker at industry conferences, university programs, and vendor events. She serves as a judge for several IT best practice awards. She is a member of the Society of Information Management and Women in Technology, a faculty member of TDWI, and serves as a co-chair for the MDM Insight conference. Jill is a columnist for DM Review, and a blogger for BeyeNETWORK and Baseline Consulting.

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