Friday, April 3, 2009

BI Discussion - Concepts Oriented vs Tools Oriented

Today I will talk about an issue that I think it matters to all IT professionals... which is until the point that we should guide by the concepts and tools? There surely a point of equilibrium between the two and for that reason I’m opening this discussion to hear from you.

The recent discontinuation of the performance point server Planning module by Microsoft, was alerting me to an important problem that starts becoming increasingly important, mainly for high increasing of globalization.

In our day to day during the work or during the leisure time, we should give more importance to the concepts or to the tools? Well ... it seems a simple question to answer ... but in fact there are many professionals in this area of BI that are very targeted to the tools ... which on the one hand can give an advantage to acquire a unique know-how, but on the other hand, is somewhat to isolate that knowledge, which could bring great disappointments fruit of great changes and development of technology that is easy to aware. Who guarantees us, that tools like SAS, Microsoft, Microstrategy, Cognos, SAP ... will not be used less or simply disappear?

So, I’m increasingly seeking knowledge through concepts, for example acquired during my master BI degree at ISCTE (MSIAD), which started in 2007. So many of you ask me ... then why are you an unconditional fan of Microsoft tools? And I say that for the simple reason of being a company with a strategy geared to the communities, for customers and for students, and has tools for easily accessible, portable, flexible and a great community always ready to help ... (where you can find me at the MSDN forums or in Experts-Exchange)

With Microsoft, is easy to implement concepts in practice with their more intuitive and simple tools, because besides the risk of opting for Microsoft to be lower due to its policy of acquisitions really strong (For example the acquisition of Panorama, ProClarity, some Dundas funtionalities, DataAlegro, Mobicomp, and some day Yahoo...) there is a lower risk in terms of knowledge ... because in spite of wasting long time learning the tools, we can release time for learning the concepts that it’s for me one of the keys to success.

An interesting research from DM Review can give you a better perception about the most used tools and the reasons to be on the top… take a look
And since we talk about keys to success, I would ask you another question... What in your perspective, the other keys to success? Do you have discovered it yet? Well ... unlike the previous question, this is undoubtedly not easy to answer ... in my opinion, the other keys to success are with no doubt the motivation and the professionalism that we show in our day to day.

By Motivation I mean focused on ourselves and in what encourage us day to day, to be better and better.

By Professionalism I mean:
Our image to others. Reflects the level of consistency, punctuality and the capacity to assume our mistakes and errors
Be organized Reflects the capacity to be organized. As my project management teacher told us in the classes, if you are not organized, how you are able to convince the others that you can organize or manage their projects?

Help me identify the keys to success! Leave your opinion... This is just my first draft...


Pedro said...

Comment From Marco Russo:
you raise an interesting question.

The reason for which I prefer Microsoft over other technologies is mainly related to the fact that MS sells a platform more than a product, and on this platform I can build customized solution.

That said, there are large areas of improvement for Microsoft and I think they missed some opportunities in the last 4-5 years just because they weren’t able to deliver an adequate client solution for their platform, and third-parties are not strong enough to offer a reliable solution.

Keys to success: harder question – but Motivation and Professionalism are really key points to me too…


Ella Maschiach said...

Hi Pedro,

First of all, thank you for a very interesting post.
Secondly, I think for me the main reason I like the Microsoft platform is because it really embodies in it the Kimball way of work. And I don't remember feeling that way about a platform before. Moreover, they really try to ease you into it all with their BOL and Step by Step and webcasts, all really walking you through the whole process. I like feeling that Microsoft invests in me learning the platform just as much as I want to invest in my learning, it's really encouraging.
Thirdly, key to success?... hard question! I guess I'm with you as for the importance of knowledge, motivation and professionalism. I would also add though being a team player, as no man is an island and we all have something to learn from everybody – be it through blogs or through our day to day work with our teammates.

All the best,

Pedro said...

Ella, I'm 100% with you! I really agree... and also agree with the team player key...
Thanks a lot for your visit and the commment... it's a pleasure!!!

Do you have feedback from Microsoft about SQL 2008?


Tomislav Piasevoli said...

Hi Pedro,

I see your dilemma as architect vs developer case. If you are familiar with concepts, that doesn't mean you'll be able to pull projects through by yourself, because you will have to use some tool. On the other hand, knowing a tool without concepts it is made for is not enough. What's required is having both. If not in one person, and it is usually so, then in project team.

Another viewpoint is theory vs practice or manager vs worker. You know that some people are theoreticians, others are practicioners. Kimball and Inmon perhaps as an example that fits the discussion. Also, most of the time managers don't know how to do/perform certain action, but they do know who does and how to make them do it. Workers knows their tasks well, but usually lack the higher perspective and sometimes although doing right make strategic mistakes.

In general, one needs the other because it's hard to excel in both.

The bottom line in my opinion is that you should choose what fits you at best and persue career in that. If you're good in achitecture, go for the concepts. If you like practice more, stick with tools. It's not exclusive, but the emphasis is mostly on one of the two. The best however is to have as much knowledge about the other of those two as you can, because it will help you perform better and be less sensitive to risks on market.

Key to success is to be prepared and seize the opportunity when you see it. Experience teaches me that having knowledge, motivation and executing it professionally isn't enough. Only if you have arranged/prepared projects. Only when you're not starting from scratch in something. Then no matter whether you're tool (worker) or concept (manager) guy, it will do.

But in order to get them, in order to make successful software, create a new solution/framework/methodology, position yourself on the market or whatever similar action you imagine that doesn't assume anything in front, you need to have more than that. You need to have imagination, vision, break it down into goals and have the strenght to execute it. Intuition and luck might also play a big part in determining the success of your adventure because, unlike with tools and concepts, the possible events that can happen are not fixed in combinations.

That's how I see it.



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