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Pain , Enlightenment and Data Quality

The first indication that I had a problem in my right shoulder was when I was having a meeting in a pub in Melbourne and I could only lift my beer to about the level of my chest before feeling pain. So I did what any sensible beer lover would do and switched to my left hand.

That evening on the plane to Sydney, I tried to put my carry-on in the overhead and the pain was excruciating. By the next morning I could hardly lift by right arm at all so I was walking around with it swinging in front me like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

So I find myself at this Physiotherapy clinic in Sydney that counts some of the leading sports teams in Australia amongst its clientele. My physiotherapist is a tiny, young girl with a sweet angelic face but looks can be deceiving as I was about to find out.

She took my history, asked intelligent questions and then asked me to remove my shirt. This was not easy with my right shoulder and arm incapacitated but she patiently waited and watched as I performed an impromptu rendition of one of the zombies from Michael Jacksons Thriller video!

She then went to work on me. She knew exactly where all the most painful places were and wasted no time in pushing them as hard as she could. She then announced that she was going to relocate my second rib. I looked at her in shock horror and pleadingly asked her where she was going to relocate it to!  “Where it’s supposed to be”, she replied. No sooner had she relocated it , she was back pushing into the really sensitive areas again. She explained that she had a gift for finding the most painful places quickly and she was not kidding. She said that she will show me how to do some of these techniques on myself and that it would not hurt so much when I do it as none of us are masochists. I was almost speechless from the pain at this point but managed to blurt out, “Yes, but some of us are sadists!”

She was not fazed and continued to inflict the pain until there were tears in my eyes and my face was contorted in expressions of extreme agony. Then she sat down next to me on the therapy table and put her arms around me. At first I thought she was giving me a hug to comfort me after all the pain I had just suffered at her hands but quickly she tightened her hands on my right shoulder and proceeded to pull my left shoulder against her body causing a new and different pain. There was no lack of variety in her torture repertoire!

Paul-Blog-mural-artShe had raised my pain thresholds to new levels but when she finished I could move my right arm to above my head  – something I was unable to do just 45 minutes earlier. Even more impressive was that she had discovered the root cause of the problem which was really my spine and the way I spent too many hours slumped over a computer keyboard. She taped up my back and shoulder and showed me exercises that I could do to address the root problem.

Just the day before the shoulder pain started, I had been sitting in a coffee shop with a Business Intelligence manger from a large Australian retail company and consultant talking about how so many BI projects run into difficulties because of underlying data issues.  The consultant was explaining that while many users like and want visual and animated dashboards, they quickly lose interest when the data is incorrect. At the same time, it is usually very hard to convince upper management to spend time, resources and money on correcting the data. The result is usually a compromise where the data causing the immediate business intelligence application issue is corrected either in the data mart or cube but the underlying source data is not addressed.

This is, of course,  treating the symptom rather than the root cause and will lead to one problem after another. Just like with my shoulder, each correction will be very painful and it is not until the root cause is properly addressed that you can start to implement trouble free BI solutions. If you do not believe me, I know a very good BI physiotherapist you can visit.

About Paul

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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