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CIF Mandates Specialized Skill Sets

  • January 01 2002, 1:00am EST

Many diverse skill sets and disciplines are required throughout the corporate information factory. It is noteworthy that these skill sets are very different and that it is impossible for any one person to be a true expert at all of the skill sets that must be included. There is a need for deep technical understanding of:

  • OLTP technology,
  • Data warehouse technology,
  • OLAP technology,
  • Statistical processing,
  • Very large data base management,
  • Archival data management,
  • Parallel processing,
  • Security,
  • Distributed meta data management,
  • Data quality management, and
  • Reporting.

Indeed the different technologies found within the corporate information factory are remarkable and very diverse. Some organizations have developed a marketplace niche in understanding and furthering a type of technology. IBM understands centralized transaction processing. Teradata understands parallel processing. SAS understands analytical processing, and so forth. These large and successful organizations have a wealth of background and history in understanding what their core competency is. Anyone who casually says, "We are going to rewrite the book on (insert existing technology here)" faces daunting obstacles. Yet all these technologies and more constitute the corporate information factory.

Figure 1: The Corporate Information Factory

Once a vendor and a technology start to become established in the marketplace, that vendor and that technology gain certain momentum, somewhat similar to a beachhead in an invasion in war time. That vendor owns and can defend that turf fairly easily. It becomes difficult for anyone else to intrude on that market space. Once the customer base has established a buying pattern, it is difficult ­ brutally difficult in some cases ­ to alter that pattern. The breadth of the corporate information factory is such that many technologies are required.

Thus, it is curious that some vendors are trying to become all things to all people. Trying to become the single-source technology vendor for the corporate information factory is a very curious goal. Even trying to become the single-source technology vendor for major parts of the corporate information factory is a curious goal. For the reasons listed earlier, one-stop shopping for the corporate information factory in terms of technology is simply not realistic.

A much better stance for a vendor to take is to improve their portion of the corporate information factory as best they can. Make improvements within their own excellence zone, and recognize that their technology will have to work cooperatively with other components of the corporate information factory. Trying to make and keep a technology in a proprietary state is counterproductive.

Another way to look at the larger picture that is evolving is to look at other industries and their growth. Consider the automotive industry. In the immature days of the automotive industry, the economies of scale and the advantages of mass production were discovered. Henry Ford wanted everything to look the same, much like some vendors want all technology inside the corporate information factory to look like their technology. If Henry Ford would have had his way, it is likely that we wouldn't have snappy Porsches with open tops, SUVs, Harley Davidson motorcycles and Mack trucks. However, the forces of maturity and the marketplace did not let the notion of one size and one brand win. Given time and marketplace forces, the same will happen to the vendors and the technology found inside the corporate information factory.

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