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The Story of the Rings of Power

Business Intelligence


11 Mar 2015


Like many of you who have read JRR Tolkein's masterpiece, Lord of the Rings, it would likely have made an impression and made you a lifelong fan. Even if you didn't read the ~1200 page epic, there has been no escaping the epic film trilogy by Sir Peter Jackson.

The Lord of the Rings adventures were built around the quest to control and ultimately destroy the One Ring. The Rings of Power were twenty magical rings forged by Sauron (the baddie) to seduce the rulers of Middle-earth to evil. Nineteen of these rings were made by the elven-smiths, these were grouped into three rings for the Elves, seven rings for the Dwarves, and nine rings for men. One additional ring, the One Ring was forged by Sauron himself at Mount Doom.

Now, if you've made it this far you're probably thinking "what does this have to do with ViFX?"

During my foray into the world of data analytics and business intelligence some common themes keep cropping up. The ability of business users to interact with data and visualise it has improved immensely. The days of having to butt heads with Excel power pivot and resultant visualisations are well behind us. Organisations such as Tableau, Qlik and Birst have revolutionised the norm in data visualisation and user self-service.

What has changed at incredible speed has been the location and diversity of data silos in the enterprise. Today it is normal to speak to an enterprise that would use various distinct platforms for key business processes, for example:

  • Sales Management - SalesForce, SugarCRM
  • Finance - Anaplan, Xero
  • Human Resources - Workday, Kronos
  • Marketing - HubSpot, Marketo
  • Enterprise Resource Planning - SAP, Oracle
  • IT Service Management - ServiceNow, Cherwell
Each of these platforms presents a distinct data silo, even before adding all the "personal" platforms within those departments. Personal platforms include such items such as team spreadsheets and databases. The above would typically be a challenge until such time as the "business" asks a question, which then requires blending data from different silos, for example:
  • How does the latest sales forecast affect my financial planning?
  • Did last week's IT outage at a plant affect manufacturing output?
  • Do I have enough staff to support 10% more work?
The above questions get asked in businesses every day with the answers taking a long time to produce, due to the complexity of trying to combine multiple data silos. You would think Sauron himself had architected this - unfortunately there is no one that convenient to blame. The reality is all organisations I have spoken to got there organically - add another SaaS tool, acquire another company, etc, etc.

The ability to provide the answers to the business at the ever increasing pace they are needed is now constrained by the challenge of integrating these data silos. Enterprises need to carefully consider their data analytics and business intelligence capability to cater for this integration challenge. And the reality is that data silos are not going to change - if anything they are likely to proliferate.

An approach built on an architecture that acknowledges the proliferation of data silos and supports their use, while allowing enterprises to drive high-level insights, would deliver tremendous value to any enterprise. More specifically, I believe that the answer to the above challenge lies in adopting the two-tier architecture and organisational model promoted by Gartner, which can be found here.

Back to the Rings of Power - I think the data silos of today are the 19 rings of power from Lord of the Rings, crying out for the One Ring to guide and control them for the good of enterprises and government!

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie,
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

-J.R.R. Tolkien's epigraph to The Lord of The Rings

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the above - even if only to mock my love of Lord of the Rings!

Author: Mike Weinstock

Mike’s focus is on the burgeoning business intelligence and analytics market, with a keen interest in the future of IT governance in enterprise organisations.

11 March 2015 / 0 Comments