The economy may be challenging, but 100 attendees on a weekday afternoon in San Francisco proved that there is plenty of interest in data warehousing. The Silicon Valley Chapter of the Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) drew a sizable, energetic group to its quarterly meeting.
No doubt the presence of Ralph Kimball, a seminal and influential thinker, had a lot to do with the success, and some people traveled a sizable distance to get in. I spoke with a Sacramento BI manager who was pleased to join the crowd thronging the vendor tables. Sponsors including Information Builders, Greenplum, Microstrategy, Netezza, Goldengate and several others were all looking pleased with the traffic.
Predictably, Kimball’s speech was deep and densely packed. After a chatty opening with the occasional laugh line – including his confession that a decade ago, he briefly thought “we had the data problem solved” – Kimball took the audience through a tightly argued analysis of how data warehousing, master data management, services oriented architecture and agile development could be leveraged to create a “lightweight downstream MDM capability” that would have enormous potential in solving many informational challenges we face in our organizations today. For an hour, the room was hushed and attentive to an eloquent, effective discussion. At the end, one suspects, many were ready to sign up for one of Kimball’s many educational offerings. In many ways, he is a competitor to TDWI’s own educational portfolio – kudos to them for providing him with a forum.
I found it energizing, as I always do, to see these activities at a local level. Analysts get to spend a lot of time with executives, and that’s an exciting aspect of our work. But hearing the issues and questions of practitioners, and watching the field operations of the large firms I talk to, always provides a needed dose of perspective. Based on this event, there are plenty of opportunities, confusion, and resources out there. Data Warehousing and BI are a bright spot in our industry, and there is (and, it seems, always will be) much left to do. Kimball’s framing of the challenges we face was powerful. One example he noted was that Google and Amazon look at “link exposures” (the links embedded in pages you go to – not unlike the measurement of viewers of TV commercials) and every one you’re exposed to is a “record” – 10 TB a day of data. And someone will want to analyze that. Looks like we’ll be busy.