As someone once said 'Cheating is a choice, not a mistake'
***I work as a HANA solution architect for one of the big implementing partners and have lived a perfect life in selling in the SAP BI space for the last 14 years. I have been working with this fortune 100 corporation and have been their preferred advisor for over ten years. They trust me and my advice and I am living close to a perfect life, but then this new HANA app ruined everything.
My name is John Dimming, and for almost the last two decades I have happily lived two lives. Most days I am the perfect advisor, a near perfect BI solution architect, SAP BI leader that is dependent, reliable and highly capable. When my customers need any advice I am there for them.No one except my select customers knew me and that for me represented my perfect life. I lived in the shadows of perfection and my advice has been taken without much challenge.
I come from an engineering background and got into BI and BI sales as I passed out from the university. My education, my training and my mentors taught me one thing – that BI technology has reached the pinnacle of capabilities and can today, this was in 2002, answer any question that a business user needs. In fact I firmly believed that if a business group needed 60 reports to meet their requirements my business content could give them 300 and far exceed their expectations. I followed the path that over 90% of BI solution architects have followed for the last decade or so. However, in the back of my mind there was a gnawing feeling that I was not doing a perfect business solution. What we provided were perfect technical solutions.
Then I read the global Gartner report of 2003 that rocked my mind and split my mind into two distinct paradigms. The report, though simple, had a profound impact on the future of BI. It clearly stated that according to the feedback of over 1500 CIO’s “Fewer than 50% of BI reports would meet business expectations”.This report took almost 2 years to sink-in when I happened to read it again because one of my CFO’s asked me how that related to them. It was followed by another report that stated that ‘98% of BI projects are declared successful in week one of Go Live, yet less than 50% of them remain successful by week 10”
Looking back I realized though we did 2 to 4 multi-million BI projects a year yet very few of them were truly reference able. In each of them we had popped champagne bottles after go live and never looked back as we celebrated in Mexico or Las Vegas for another project well done. We never looked back – and that is something I started doing around 2010.I started to see a common pattern of ‘The BI project was an IT success, but a BI failure’ where the client management and key stakeholders could rarely go back to their stockholders and state that their multi-million BI project was a failure. This pattern was consistent whether the project was Oracle, Teradata or any other BI application.
By 2011 I realized that I was part of a big deception of selling very high quantity of reports and custom objects, something that cost clients large budgets, but more often than not very little information. It was common to deliver 360 FI reports but rarely did we measure what business users could actually use.Business users, who were they, in all our projects we actually forbade them to come into the project war-room. If one of them inadvertently entered the room I personally raised the red flag to the CEO or CFO recommending they keep business users out of the project room as they were an unnecessary distraction. Our statement was - our company was a global consulting leader and we had deployed hundreds of BI projects and we knew more about what the company needed than most business users. We never lost.
Very soon I realized that though I was talented my talent was limited to deception. Having worked with CxO level stakeholders for so long I am trained and can construct perfectly logical success stories and convince my customers. But now a gnawing sense of insecurity crept in as I realized I was continuing to sell application support, architecture, modeling with a solid track record of over 70% failure. But there was nothing else I knew so I continued with my deception and my bonuses.For all these years I had a free pass that got me a lot of satisfaction that required me to completely cut loose from my forebodings and concerns and after each meeting and sale I would come back a renewed man more convinced that maybe Gartner was all wrong about this.
Then in 2011 an 8 million dollar BI project that I was involved in failed most user tests eight weeks before go live. The BI lead, having read the 2003 Gartner report, asked if they could meet at least 40% user satisfaction they would consider the project a success. I requested my company to assign me to another project which they immediately complied. The project in question was postponed by six months but that is now someone elses concern.In 2012 I was part of the same BI project where my counterpart had convinced them that their failure was not because of bad design, which I knew to be not true at all, but the platform. We recommended moving to HANA and once again I put my professional garb of deception and convinced my customer that because we had been providing them application and business support. When one of the business stakeholders asked why they should spend on HANA if their current BI could not meet over 80% of business reporting expectations, we shut the person down with protocol efficiency.
Then the VP of sales opened the iPhone application ‘BInformed’ and even till today it kills me that I had never heard of this scientific application designed to expose erroneous decisions on big-data decisions and trap cheating, or inexperienced, advisors, lying SI’s and what BI Valuenomics terms as technical criminals in a global heist. At that meeting I thought it was a humorous game and nothing more.Here is how it went down as the game was played by the very VP of sales I had buffed using my CIO protocol card. The game started with the detection of advice along random questions that it dared my team to beat. Being the lead honcho, and the BI Solution advisor, I took it upon myself to represent my company with a firm belief to prove to Mr. VP that he was a fool trying to play a business game with an IT demagogue.
Here’s how it went down.The game started by asking if we used the standard ‘Z’ and ‘Y’ for custom BW developments and I proudly answered Yes.
It then asked what was the recommended BI architecture Data marts, EDW or FEDW- I knew there was nothing called FEDW and selected EDW.The next question asked if we recommended taking all of the BW as is to BW on HANA and As I had crossed this bridge just a few weeks ago I again answered a solid and loud ‘Yes’.
This continued and in my and each time it was like hitting a jackpot for every question being asked was something I had been familiar with for over a decade.By Question 9 or 10 I was feeling on top of the world. The question asked whether we could reduce the price of HANA SW and/or HW and I knew the answer both from SAP and HW partners and stated a clear ‘NO’ and asked for the next question.
This pesky game was trying to read my mind on questions that I had answers to. If I had made up the questions myself I could not have done a better job… I waited to hit the next question out of the park…Then surprisingly, Mr. VP then stated that though there were 22 more question there was no need waste any more time as the result of these answers would provide an indicative success factor.
I smiled waiting for the result as did the foolish business VP who I would crush for wasting the valuable time of over 27 key stakeholders with this stupid game.The game pulled out the score and visually and with data stated, in front of my 27 followers and key stakeholders that if the program followed the current path the probability of strategic success was less than 18% and that of tactical success under 24%
I could hear the air punched out of my Client managers guts. I could not believe it.The CEO asked my manager to explain why the result of our questions was so alarming and whether we should continue with the remaining questions. To which she unfortunately agreed and asked me to continue answering.
The end result was worse than before. We then challenged the game and were proven wrong once again.
You can guess what happened next. Our companies went for a simple divorce and so did the next three as they were measured on the same silly game. We hear that one company scored over 80% and have been trying to get their answers but each time we reach out to our old loyalists they shrink away in fear.
1. This is a fictional story, but is has a string of truth in it.
2. It is a reminder that if you are a cheater and your BI projects are a string of non-reference able failures maybe you need to retool your solutions, and recommendations, before you make the next HANA pitch3. HANA is certainly not a technical implementation, but a business solution.
4. My goal here is to place the question in the head of every big x consulting company: What will you’re your life be like when the truth finally becomes inescapable?
5. And, for business stakeholders: it’s time you took ownership and accountability in every stage and every deliverable from your BI investments, all it takes is two hour of your time.
Gartner’s check:1. There is a very high probability that over 50% of reports in your production environment do not meet, or will never meet, business expectations
2. In 2012 Gartner ran the same report and the result of over 2,400 CIO’s indicated that ‘Less than 30% of BI projects will meet business expectations in 2012-14” (author can send the report deconstructed for free- send email)
What’s in your pocket..