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Focusing on the Sizzle

Yet another organization, this time in the telco vertical market, was in the process of evaluating warehouse vendors a year and a half ago. Their vendor evaluation process was very much user-driven, with the IT staff taking a backseat. The IT department was supportive of data warehousing in general, but wanted no part in the decision-making process and was content to leave the selection to the user groups.

With the proliferation of data warehousing products, particularly GUI-based and web-based front-end tools, it was easy to impress non-technical users with flashy demos. We've also sat in on some sales presentations where a product vendor waves away concerns about data quality, and will casually promise a fully implemented data warehouse in 60 to 90 days.

By leaving the buying decision completely in the hands of the users, the IT department in this organization was not protecting the interests of the company. The business users didn't realize that building and implementing a warehouse required more than just buying and populating the data structure of a front-end tool. They were focusing on the sizzle instead of the substance. And the IT department, by trying to avoid culpability for any wrong decisions that might be made in the warehousing effort, was actually helping to set the stage for major problems in scalability, data integration, and data quality.

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