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The simple truth about data warehouses is that the traditional “big bang” method of building them doesn’t work for most organizations anymore. The diversity of data sources and formats we can access is constantly expanding, and taking them all on at once to form a single central repository results in a massive project that can take years to show value. That doesn’t mean we should throw out the concept of data warehousing altogether, though. In fact, there’s a better way to do it that is built on proven development practices, provides value as you go, and feels like less of a massive undertaking: an iterative data warehouse. Read more

In the world of data and analytics, technical debt is what happens when organizations make conscious decisions to solve short-term problems, even when they know there could be long-term and potentially negative implications around their actions. It exists in every organization, including yours. Not all technical debt is bad, as long as it is strategically planned and tactically paid off. Read more

Yesterday, Ironside’s partner Pitney Bowes announced that they are forming a new data practice built to accelerate businesses’ digital transformation initiatives. This practice will reach across the whole company to accomplish the goal of helping organizations “utilize data and analytics to deliver a superior customer experience, support product and service innovation, and optimize business processes” according to the announcement. We see this as a major benefit for our clients. Read more

CIO and IDG released the 2017 State of the CIO report this week. Their findings are useful not just for the CIO role in general but also for exploring the connection between the CIO and analytics initiatives. Looking at the report through the lens of data and analytics, I had three reactions to the survey results:

  1. CIOs should consider using analytics to drive business innovation, backing up their transformational and strategic activities with concrete resources.
  2. CIOs and line of business leaders should consider communicating even more and syncing expectations through data and analytics.
  3. CIOs should consider investing in a data and analytics roadmap to enable themselves as both business strategists and technicians.

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Data governance is a common need across organizations, and can be a very challenging subject to tackle. Understanding data governance’s components, what good governance looks like, and the drivers behind adopting it is essential to creating a successful governance effort. Read more

Data discovery is a “new” technique that takes a less formal and more agile approach to analyzing data. Okay, well, it’s not really new — people have been doing this with spreadsheets for decades — but the products that support it have improved greatly and have forced a more formal consideration of these techniques. The data discovery approach produces insights very quickly, but it also encounters challenges when dealing with data transformation. Most data discovery tools are limited in their ability to manipulate data. Additionally, understanding relationships between different data entities can require expertise that some users may not possess. In order to enable agile data discovery, organizations need agile data warehousing. Read more

Ironside has placed the reins of our information management and data integration practice into the hands of one of our strongest data handling experts: Geoff Speare. Geoff will now be serving in a broader strategic and management capacity as our Practice Lead for Information Management. His deep expertise across both traditional and big data-oriented infrastructures, passion for bimodal analytics, and focus on governance make him the ideal thought leader to drive this part of our organization.

About Geoff

Geoff Speare PortraitA long-time Ironside veteran, Geoff is an information management mastermind who can transform collections of data into solutions and architectures that keep businesses growing. The powerful integrations and data management strategies he creates show our clients that efficiently organized data is an invaluable asset improving all aspects of a business. Geoff works with tools from SSIS to PureData Systems for Analytics in order to provide the right answers for each client.

Geoff’s Specialties: Enterprise Data Architecture and Integration, Data Warehousing, Data Integration, Bimodal Analytics

Focus and Goals

Information Management Practice Lead is an apt title for Geoff, as many of the initiatives and solutions he’ll take on in his new role bring together elements from Ironside’s other practice areas.

“Information management is critical to all of the solutions that Ironside provides,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to helping businesses understand and solve the challenges they face in organizing and providing the right data to the right people. We’ve been doing this work for a long time at Ironside and have a lot of experience we can bring to bear.”

The infrastructure foundations that the Ironside Information Management team will build under Geoff’s leadership will provide the solid platform upon which organizations build their analytics strategies, meaning that their approaches need to be flexible enough to account for the many data handling options emerging in the modern landscape. Geoff is excited to take on all these different methods and make them a reality for our clients.

“Much more data is moving to the cloud now, which creates new challenges in putting it in one place for analysis,” he asserts. “Add to that the increased demands for timeliness and flexibility created by data discovery tools and the need for dynamic solutions is greater than it’s ever been. Businesses are shifting from warehouse-only architectures to approaches that can meet the requirements of bimodal analytics.”

This atmosphere of change opens up a wide array of opportunities to innovate in the information management and data integration space. Geoff sees this as a chance to get more people exposed to the behind-the-scenes processes they previously haven’t thought about and help them effectively control their environments.

“A lot of data movement is invisible to users – except when it doesn’t work,” he states. “Creating solutions that are easy to maintain and to understand is something I’ve done a lot of and believe very strongly in. I’ve seen many times the benefits of keeping all of these perspectives in mind, and look forward to bringing that approach to even more of Ironside’s clients.”

If you’d like to see more on how Geoff views information management, data integration, and business analytics, check out some of the articles he’s written. You can also check out our Information Management team page to see how Geoff and his team can help you take advantage of the information that’s critical to your organization’s success.

Master data management (MDM) efforts often get bogged down quickly due to business thinking that the entire process is owned by IT when in fact they need to set the standards. Knowing how to do that and what real MDM means will help make these efforts become collaborative and smooth to run. This article will answer several questions executives and other business leaders may have regarding MDM, in addition to proposing questions that should be used in order to leverage the full potential of MDM and illustrating real-world use cases. Read more

Don’t think you have big data?  Chances are you do.  The fact is if you have a website, you have big data.  Web servers capture and store events related to user traffic.  The web logs they generate essentially tell the story of what users did when they visited your site.  This information can provide your organization with extreme business value.

If you think you have big data to analyze from your website, you may want to look into Apache Spark.  It’s easy to get started with and makes short work of analyzing your web logs.  It’s actually pretty fun to work with, too.  If you enjoyed playing with LEGOs as a kid, you may have a childhood flashback with Spark. Read more

Ironside’s Crystal Meyers was featured in Vol. 19, No. 4 of TDWI’s Business Intelligence Journal. Her points are particularly relevant as business analytics begins a more pronounced shift toward a bimodal model in 2016.

Reprinted with permission of 1105 Media, Inc. As published in TDWI’s Business Intelligence Journal. Read more