One of the key questions that we asked when looking at how technologies such as Hadoop and Gemfire would change the way people use information was to take a step back and ask:
What is broken?
That was really too broad and led to the real question:
How do business users want to engage with information?
I had a few chats with various people at Capgemini, Pivotal and our clients to really understand a bit more about where business demand was coming. Over and over again the same three things became apparent:
- Business Users are buying information solutions
- There are two clear worlds of demand – Corporate Level roll-up and local ‘my problem’
- IT is ok in the former and poor in the latter
What I mean by the last point is that while IT can of course build lots of point data solutions, that is exactly what happens, meaning IT creates a long term problem and the only ‘fix’ is ‘lets have a big EDW’.
So really there were two contending pieces – the desire for corporate roll-ups and the desire for local views on marketing, operations and other business units. This as always been a reality but the first point is the one that makes historical approaches irrelevant moving forwards.
If the Business Users in a local business unit want a solution to solve their problem they are going to pay for a solution to their problem. However what we also found was that what they want is often their own view on the federated information in the enterprise. So the Marketing officer wants to see the bookings and previous transaction history of their airline passengers, the operations guy wants to see how stock levels are matching against current sales demand. In other words this local view doesn’t mean local information it means the business specific view on whatever information there is.
What was also apparent was that the language of information for business users was SQL, they ‘groked’ SQL and the idea of moving towards a pure programming language like Java or a statistical language like R was going to be a bit too big a leap.
When looked at from the perspective of the local view you get three key requirements
- Make it SQL
- Give me access to all the information I want
- Let me control my view
And from that we started looking at how that impacts the architecture of a next generation data infrastructure. That was what gave us the Business Data Lake, a new approach to information that believes the local view is key. I’ll blog soon about how the corporate roll-up is just another local view but briefly the point is this
A business works based on the local KPIs and the boundaries between areas. Historically IT has attempted to push a single solution onto that homogenous environment, and it has been able to because it had the budget. As those local KPIs and areas get more of the budget the future is about realising the business way of working within technology and moving away from forcing the technology view onto business.