Hopelessly devoted to metadata

I spend this week in Bratislava, leading metadata management training, couching new metadata experts-to-be, and reviewing existing metadata projects. It's all about metadata in data warehouses.

I begin to meta - I say "meta" a hundred times each day. I see metadata everywhere.

I, to begin my third paragraph with this beautiful pronoun, I try to explain the difference between theory and practice. Usually, people and the projects are concerned about the technical side of the metadata issue. However, the technical part is the easier one.

You can find the real problem in business process. That's why most of the metadata projects fail. They can be at very high technical level but without a proper business flow, they're useless.

Everybody wants to buy a metadata solution. These millions should not be invested to software. Invest them to your people.

Looks like I'm not thinking about metadata, am I?

Are you fed up?

Mark Smith writes:
The current situation should have business mad as hell and fed up. With so much of an organization's IT budget being spent on technology, but the situation in business having gotten a whole lot worse, now what? I would recommend that business either take back control of their BI destiny or just write them off as educational experiments. Another choice is to develop a new strategy built on the demands for information and analytics that might need to completely bypass IT and outsource to a supplier that provides software as a service (SaaS) and just requires data feeds to populate their analytics and BI capabilities.

At today's Open Coffee Club, we have talked just about that. The following question emerged: Will IT fight back? Do they feel that SaaS makes them useless and incompetent?

In my opinion, IT departments are not happy about consuming so much time on operations and deployment, and the SaaS concept will force them to focus on the boring stuff more and more.

Poor IT!

Getting Things Lazed

This method is not as well elaborated as the famous David Allen's Getting Things Done, but it's pretty easier to use.

It borrows the idea of inbox from GTD. With everything that goes to your inbox (like emails), you just have to do a single action. Archive it or delete it or whatever. Hide it all away! It can be a little bit sophisticated like this: You can use Gmail with GTDInbox extension, and mark every message that needs to be replied by "Next Action" label. It disappears and your inbox is always empty.

Mind like water guaranteed.

Sites I'm excited about: Blist, Social|median, Twine

Blist is a spreadsheet-like database. Imagine your Excel where you can easily include different data types like checkboxes, pull-down lists, even images and documents. You can even have a blist in a blist. Very nice concept. I had some ideas about transforming my boring wine list from Excel to a web application, but I guess I stick to Blist now.

Social|median is in almost-public alpha, enter RWW invitation code provided by ReadWriteWeb to sign up. The site is full of so-called News Networks - imagine topic related RSS aggregations. You can comment on their articles, add new sources, clip new web sites etc. Business intelligence network was created yesterday, it has 8 members, aggregates 10 sources, other 14 sources are recommended automatically by the system.

Twine allows you to blog in a different way, but it's not the only purpose. You can create/join twines (spaces) and clip web sites to them easily. You can twine bookmarks, books, photos, documents, emails... and then tag them and share them. You need an invitation to join Twine, I have some.

So these are the cool sites I'm excited about, because I sign up today. I feel dizzy sometimes: Did I clip this web page to del.icio.us, EverNote, Twine, or Social|Median? Or did I only starred it in Google Reader?

It simply can't work

Any question or comment? - asked the presenter.

An old man stood up: - It can't work! The whole concept is nonsense, it will be slow, unreliable, nobody will want to use it. Plus, the concept is not new and it does not solve anything that can't be solved by today's standard procedures. It simply can't work.

It happened several years ago at an international conference about databases. The talk was about XML databases.

The presenter smiled at his embittered old friend. - I would like you to remember this conference some 30 years ago. I talked about SQL then and you criticized my talk with the same words as today. I ask you, can SQL work?

The question is not whether it can or cannot work. It is always about you. Do you want it to work?

Too deep in my comfort zone

London Symphony Orchestra released Mahler's Sixth symphony recently. I have to listen to it again and again. This neurotic and scary recording makes me uncomfortable. It is different from the recordings I know. Gergiev's reading of the symphony is wonderfully tempting.

I feel very good in my comfort zone. I listen to CDs I know, I read blogs I've been reading for years, I buy books written by authors I've read before, I eat meals - you get the point, I guess. It makes my life organized and tidy.

And boring. The bell in my head is ringing: Try something new!

Ok, Japanese fish soup with a complete fish head, Gergiev's Mahler, blog in English. It makes me uncomfortable and I like it.

What a surprise.

On the need for on-demand business intelligence tools

On-demand BI, let's imagine it! - a friend of mine was excited. - It can be here in a few years!

Well, - I opposed, - it's already here for several years, but the huge companies haven't noticed it yet.

In a huge company like a bank, time is flowing differently. What can be done in hours, it takes weeks there, and nobody is concerned, nobody notices.

A new report? Ok, if you have such an idea, you go to business people, they discuss its business case and prepare its business design. Then it's IT move. The business design is not easy to implement, one has to change this and that, that attribute is not in the data warehouse yet and maybe you need a completely new datamart...

And there you are: Your new report is ready to be used in three or six months. At that time you realize it's not exactly what you need.

Can you be happy with it? Many people in the big companies are, and they are convinced it's the only way how it can work.

It is not. Time is running fast elsewhere.

Changing my job, starting a new blog

I am not new in blogging. I started to blog in summer 2003. I just moved to Switzerland at that time and I was there alone, without my friends, without my family, without my girlfriend, without my cat. So I started to blog to be in touch with them, the cat included.

By now, I have ten blogs plus five others that are dead. None of them is in English. However, I'm changing my job, and that's a great opportunity to start blogging in English.