Wayne Eckerson, director of Educational Research for The Data Warehousing Insititute (TDWI), opened the TDWI World Conference session on Monday morning in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a keynote addressing "Business Intelligence 2002: Trends, Teams and Taboos." His opening question was, "How do we make data warehousing more strategic to the organization?" His answer was to provide better alignment, architecture, analytics and applications.

By providing executive management with a digital dashboard, you can create greater business value support with hard data, which creates overall business alignment. Eckerson said that the best way to align a data warehouse project is to "identify the informational pain, recruit a respected sponsor and business driver, identify and gather critical requirements and establish a stewardship program."

The next step is to remove redundant non-integrated data silos that feed independent data marts and replace it with a data warehouse hub and spoke architecture. The data warehouse receives feeds from the operational systems and then the data is used to support all of the analytic applications (dependent data marts) for the organization. According to Eckerson, "The health of your data warehouse is inversely proportional to the number of spreadsheets used in surrogate data marts."

The next key area is analytics. They need to be accessible to a broad audience, provide key metrics and information closer to real time. Applications must be developed for the end user which provide the right information and require little technical knowledge. These new applications need to be guided, domain specific, customizable, action-oriented and measureable.

Eckerson spent time discussing the 2002 TDWI Salary survey. Salaries have declined slightly in 2002 versus 2001 which is a reflection of the current business environment. Sixty-one percent of all project managers are very satisfied or mostly satisfied with their jobs.

Eckerson concluded his talk addressing taboos which can hurt all projects: culture, perceptions, politics, scope, stewardship and technology. He stated that "Technology is the easy part, and the rest can be addressed through extensive communication with the team." He reiterated that the way to make your data warehouse project highly strategic to the organization is to, "Align with corporate business strategy, architect it for the entire enterprise, address analytic needs and avoid well-known pitfalls."

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