BI and Data Management
Jan 27 2011
Margaret, who was an average sales person, moved from Washington, DC to Richmond, VA, whose market is one fifth the size, during the month of June. When the annual evaluations of sales performance were done in the month of December, she was listed as the top performer in the Richmond market resulting in the company promoting her to Sales Director. The next two highest ranked Richmond salespeople had been the consistent leaders for the last several years and outperformed Margaret since she arrived in Richmond. Her very high sales numbers during the first six months of the year skewed her average, placing her above the rest of the Richmond area. In this example, if the decision makers had correct information handy, and used it appropriately, would they have promoted Margaret over her new Richmond peers?
Here is another example.
Jan 27 2011
The Atlantic, not typically a technical rag, recently presented an article by business and economics editor Megan McArdle on health care data integration entitled “Paging Dr. Luddite”. The article brings to a mass audience an understanding of both the importance and difficulty of data integration, but the title and general anti-healthcare-professional tone seem counterproductive.
The article opens with a compelling example of data silos, detailing the challenges of integrating the many data feeds from sensors attached to a premature baby “as small as the hand that cradles” it. Each sensor produces a data stream, and, in a field trial at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, IBM is integrating that data in near real time to identify early signs of infection.
Jan 27 2011
A colleague introduced the term “convenience view” to me and that term resonated with me ever since. A convenience view is one of those database objects intended to make life easier for people to access data without actually understanding the nuances and relationships of those data. Convenience views frequently join multiple tables together so data users will not need to code or optimize those joins. Convenience views may also include business logic which transforms data so end users will not need to code or argue those transformations. The concept seems noble enough. Who opposes simple data access, optimized joins and centralized business rules? Just like that store that sells everything right off the interstate, convenience comes at a cost.
One obvious cost is all of those optimized joins. Sure each individual join may be optimized, but the database engine has to collectively consider all available join options before an execution
Jan 24 2011
I've worked with health care data for the past few years, and in a recent conversation I realized it might be valuable to detail some of the complexities of health care data for those who might enter this growing field. Of course these considerations aren't unique to health care, but they are typical of the challenges that the new health care application developer or analyst might face.
Jan 24 2011
One of the key skills needed in today’s IT shop is communication, and one of the best ways to improve ability to communicate is to write blog posts and articles.
In spite of “IT guy” stereotypes, communication and analytical thinking about business are among the most important skills in application development. Developers, analysts, and managers require ability to interact effectively with business people, to conceptualize solutions that match business needs, critically evaluate those solutions, and effectively make the case for one of them. Of course this is true of the overall project business case, but more importantly it applies to the daily “IT guy” to business person conversations that happen throughout analysis, design, development, and testing.
Cultivating writing skills is one way to cultivate effective communication. Often, writers start a piece with “it all worked out in their head”.