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June 19, 2008

Beware spurious impartiality: the Scandinavians deserved better than “Information Management 2008”.

Publishing organisations have come to dominate much of the conference industry and until Tuesday I did not see the value they add but then, as a guest of a DW vendor, I attended “Knowledge Management 2008” and realised that, whereas the agenda of publishers may highlight and prolong any differences between speakers, they do generally provide a forum where the audience understand the motivation of presenters. Although many of the participants believed this conference to be “vendor neutral”; it was not. The “neutrality” regarding hardware simply obscured the bias of consultancy that makes money out of repeated re-engineering of datamarts and actually talked against Datawarehouses. The invitation of a few speakers like Mike Ferguson, Frank Buytendijk and Stephen Brobst created the spurious perception of impartiality but the manner in which their “suggestions” were dismissed later, with no debate, was amazing. The audience, primarily Scandinavians, deserve better.

Perhaps the absence of representation from multiple consultancies should have rung alarm bells – why would only one be visible at a “conference” of 400, sponsored by 17 software and hardware vendors?

One early presentation compared the implementation and use of BI by “Peer Group” and “World Leaders” but after that, I saw or heard no suggestion that participant organisations should follow or even aspire to adopt or develop world class practices. Tuesday evening included Rune Klan, a very entertaining conjurer who really held the attention of nearly all the audience but, for me, his trick of keeping the audience focused on one thing while he did another simply characterised the whole conference. The proficiency of the deception seemed to distract many really large Scandinavian organisations that really should be considering world class practices and strategies instead of frittering their money on tactical initiatives that detract from the value that IT could deliver if truly aligned with business strategy.

Tactical projects will maintain “jobs for the boys” but only until the organisation loses revenues and further market share to the competitors that are already focused on world class alignment of IT with Business Strategies. The presentation by one organisation of “Financial DW” v “EDW” seemed to focus on how the data that is of interest to Accounting and Regulators might be replicated for slicing and dicing by other areas of the organisation, with no recognition of the business imperative for including non-financial data such as Future Cash Flows, Propensity Scores for Marketing, non-financial transactions and data from external sources for comparison, etc.

Despite the title “Information Management” the conference was really focused on BI and data repositories with little recognition of the relationship between information and knowledge and how knowledge could and should be managed and grown by all organisations. One presentation should be congratulated for the wider scope - that by Falck described their process for developing and implementing “performance management” in a manner that included and therefore obtained buy-in from the whole workforce. The knowledge and feedback of the entire organisation including a workforce driven by widely differing motivations, was harnessed in that process and deserves congratulation.

Posted by Kenneth Hansen at 9:45 AM | Comments (0)