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Automation Chronicles #1: Cultural Challenges of Automation


In the ever-evolving landscape of data management and analytics, the role of Data Warehouse Automation Architecture, delivered by architects such as Pete, is paramount. They harness the power of automation to streamline processes, enhance efficiency and drive business agility, to help businesses reach their full potential.



Here, we will delve into the intriguing journey of Pete across three distinct data analytics projects where automation could have played a pivotal role. Each of these scenarios demonstrates the challenges faced, the solutions proposed and the outcomes achieved.


Project 1: The Agile Conundrum

In this project, Pete realised an opportunity to revolutionise a client’s opportunity. He proposed a visionary strategy that promised a staggering 2x improvement in agility through automating the labour-intensive manual processes. However, the consultancy hesitated and eventually rejected the proposal, instead opting for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach which yielded a mere 0.2x increase in projected agility. It was a token gesture to use automation but not to fully harness its entire capability, a bit like driving a car to the end of the drive but then walking the rest of the way to the shops and back.

The decision, while seemingly cautious, had far-reaching consequences. It highlighted a common pitfall in the corporate world – resistance to rapid change. Pete’s proposal was ahead of its time and the consultancy’s reluctance to embrace it resulted in missed opportunities for their client. It is a reminder that sometimes, bold steps are required to truly unlock the potential of automation.


Project 2: The Costly Rejection

In the second project, Pete found himself in a challenging situation. He joined a team where a fixed-price data warehouse delivery was underway, but the project was understaffed. Predictably, timelines started to slip, causing significant headaches for the team, the systems integrator (SI) and the customer.

Automation emerged as a beacon of hope, offering a solution to expedite the project and mitigate risks while requiring no additional developers. However, the SI’s reluctance to adopt automation tools for fear of undermining their consultancy services was a classic case of missed opportunity. The customer, unfortunately, bore the brunt of this decision, experiencing delays and disruptions that could have been averted through automation.

This scenario underscores a vital point – automation should be viewed as a complement, not a threat, to consultancy services. When used strategically, it can enhance the value consultants provide by accelerating projects and delivering tangible results, especially when costs and time are fixed.


Project 3: Speed and Innovation

In the third project, Pete and his small team showcased the true power of automation, delivering a change request which built a multidimensional cube with three facts and twenty dimension tables, along with automated ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes, and a data warehouse – all within an astonishing three days. The speed and precision of this accomplishment left everyone speechless.


Unfortunately, because the new Business Intelligence (BI) lead had “never heard” of the product, which was in beta, the innovative delivery was completely dismissed. Despite the customer’s satisfaction with the output and the incredible speed at which it was delivered, the automation tool was again side lined in favour of ‘traditional’ means of delivery.

This tale highlights the importance of fostering a culture of innovation and staying open to new possibilities. Pete and his small team had achieved an unprecedented and remarkable solution, but it was not given the recognition it deserved due to an inability to veer from the status quo. In an ever-evolving technological landscape, it is crucial to embrace change and explore unconventional solutions. In other words, progress does not happen without new ideas and risk. Furthermore, it can be an enabler because it gives more advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities.


Conclusion

Pete’s journey through these three projects provides insights into the challenges of Data Warehouse automation, namely the resistance to innovation and misconceptions about the benefits. To truly harness the potential of automation, organisations must be willing to adapt, innovate and embrace change. It is a lesson that can be applied across industries – automation is not just about efficiency; it is about unlocking new possibilities and driving business success.

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