VIDEO: Modern Data Architecture—Avoiding the 'One-Tool-Fits-All' Trap

Video produced by Steve Nathans-Kelly

A modern data architecture for business intelligence and analytics has to support structured, unstructured, and semi-structured sources, as well as hybrid integration and also meet the analytical needs of a wide range of users spanning casual information consumers, power users, and data scientists.   

At Data Summit 2018, Richard Sherman, managing partner, of the consultancy, Athena IT Solutions, presented a talk on “Designing a Data Architecture for Modern Business Intelligence & Analytics." Sherman cautioned against falling into the “one-tool-fits-all” trap.

“We're a technologist society. We figure everything can be solved by the next great technology, AI, machine learning, big data—whatever,” he said.  All those are great tools, but as evidenced by Gartner’s hype cycle, the expectations are sometimes higher than what you can get out of them.

This is mainly because the technologies are not made to to fix everything in the world, but instead to answer certain particular problems, he observed.

In addition, he noted, there are different types of analytics, and different types of analytic use cases that different tools are useful for, or alternatively, it may be possible to use the same tool for more than one analytic use case, but it is necessary to know how to design it for that use case.

And, there are different BI personas, as well. “Shockingly, most people don't want to spend all the time on a dashboard,” said Sherman. “Most people have a job to do, and that's not creating a dashboard. We have a tendency in our industry to work with data analysts or power users who love playing with these tools, and by the way, build the data shadow systems, but aren't the typical user of information, and they probably aren't decision makers.”

Importantly, he stressed, “Usually, no vendor has a lock on the technology or the ideas that you want to use.”

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Data Summit 2019, presented by DBTA and Big Data Quarterly, is scheduled for May 21-22, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency Boston, with pre-conference workshops on May 20.