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Month: February 2011

Smarter, faster, roomier inside

What do you get if appliances keep getting smarter, faster, and roomier inside? Choice A: abolition of IT, because who needs geeks? Choice B: license to be sloppy.

You guessed it: sloppy and proud. Out of the loud, unruly marketplace we have now for analytics appliances will come new, bold categories to satisfy every need. One will satisfy what is now the widespread obsession with data quality. So boring now, appliances in this niche will make data quality problems seem quaint with a “smart” data maid that follows us around.

At least that’s what I came away with from a phone call with Kim Stanick, marketing consulting to BI vendors. She said, “We’re comparing all these things on the same playing field, and maybe different playing fields are evolving.” She said analysts should get busy and define these new fields.

With a data maid picking up after us, what happens to IT? Well, it’s sure not going away, says one sales manager and longtime IT watcher. (Like so many people with corporate jobs, he won’t let me go anywhere near identifying him.)

“They’re going to go kicking and screaming up to the next higher level of function,” he says. Up there on that new, higher level, the IT team will be smaller. It will also be more strategic, more collaborative, and have a better understanding of the business.

But what happens on the business side? Will those who were chronically unable to explain their needs now find new talent for expression? Did they take a class? No, the new software comes embedded with the requisite knowledge.

Will sloppiness ensue? It did once before, back when the typist pool receded as managers adopted PCs. Grammar and punctuation — those quirky little standards that reduce noise and amplify signal — gradually fell out of style.

“Oh, but we’ve got spell checkers for that!,” the do-it-yourselfers protest. But those things still can’t say to a confused writer, “Uh, Mr. Tryingtoohard, what are you trying to say?”

The same fate may lie ahead for data quality.

We still have to account for a third group: business intelligence consultants. In this story, they all moved on to other niches. Even today, that’s what some have already done — and more on that in a future post.