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The CIO Forum: Budgets Byte Back

Chief tech officers discuss how they are using their data to beat the competitition.
Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 2003

if we mess this up."

Naturally, data security issues rank high in the list of concerns of CIOs, though that has not always been the case. As Gaines points out, "In the past security was an afterthought. Now, it is a part of the development cycle of a data warehouse."

Similarly, Shoquist notes that ERCOT is only as strong a market as its weakest link. "So we could have the tightest walls in the world at ERCOT, [but] any external activity that would hamper any of our trading partners for either receiving or sending information to us essentially shuts down the market." He adds that data security "is definitely high on my radar, very very important to me, to ensure that not only are we secure, but we secure the entire market."

Of course, data warehouses weren't the only issue confronting CIOs this past year, nor is that issue the only item on their agendas in the months ahead. For a further peek into the minds of these CIOs, we've included excerpts from their interviews in the following pages.

Making Data Warehouse Projects Work

Data warehousing is hot, but it can burn a company. A recent study by the Cutter Consortium shows that as many as 41 percent of data warehousing projects fail.

In essence, data warehousing consolidates data and information from across the corporation, regardless of the application that generates the data. The reason consultants get paid big bucks to create a data warehouse lies in the fact that not all bits and bytes play well together, unless coaxed and massaged.

What can help make a data warehouse project a success?

  • Don't underestimate how critical it is to get the extracting, transforming, and loading of data right. It's boring, but it's crucial to making a warehouse work.
  • Have a clear idea of the business problem(s) to be solved by using a data warehouse.
  • Avoid adding more and more features to the project as it progresses. It will cost more to make mid-stream changes than to plan features up front.
  • Beware of scope creep-expanding the scope of the original project virtually guarantees missed implementation deadlines.
  • Get end-user buy-in and input during all phases of the project, particularly in the planning and development stages.
  • Expect to spend money to maintain the warehouse once it's up and running.


Senior Vice-president and Chief Information Officer, Calpine


Q: Did any big projects go on line for you last year?


Q: Do you come up with these ideas on your own?


Q: How do you look for personnel? It's not every IT person that knows the energy industry.


Q: Looking ahead for the next year or two, what's on your agenda?


Chief Technology Officer, Cinergy

"We're bringing data into one repository, with a set of standard terminologies so it means the same thing no matter who's looking at it."

Q: Did you have any big IT projects that went on line for you last year?


Q: So what kinds of data are you trying to link up?


Q: Are