"I am tired of IT people. They'll talk to you for half an hour about what they do, but by the time they're finished, you still don't have any idea what they've told you or why it's important," so complained a friend of mine in a recent conversation. What was the irritant giving rise to my friend's frustration? Ahem ... my own ineffective attempt to explain to him what it is that I, a data warehousing/business intelligence (DW/BI) practitioner, do.

Sometimes the right metaphor is helpful. It can clarify abstract concepts for the uninitiated and, even for the expert, be a means for synchronizing designs and vocabularies and analyzing problems. To that end, let me propose a metaphor for describing what DW/BI is all about and, perhaps more importantly, suggest where the field is broken: the metaphor is that of an information supply chain.

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