Are BI Vendors Practicing What They Preach?

Why are vendors doing things that their own products and technology were designed to prevent or correct?

Over the years, I have worked with many data warehousing vendors that have done things that their own products and technology were designed to prevent or correct. The following examples are factual; however, I have eliminated the company names in order to protect the guilty.

One vendor that invited me to its analyst conference was very late in reimbursing me for my travel expenses. When I asked why I had yet to receive payment, I was informed that the payment had been directly deposited into my checking account. I have several checking accounts and did not remember ever providing the company with an account number for direct deposit, so I asked which account received the funds. I didn't recognize the account number and suggested that perhaps the funds had been deposited into the account of a former employee whose name was very similar to mine. Indeed, they had! The vendor has since acquired a company that specializes in advanced identity resolution; a technology that should prevent this from happening in the future. However, the partner directory on this data integration vendor's Web site still contains some duplicate entries.

One client that I consult for paid me for several different projects during a single calendar year. Because I am an independent contractor, the company is required report my compensation, if it totals at least $600, to the IRS in box 7 (nonemployee compensation) of a form 1099-MISC. When I received my copy of the 1099-MISC form, it did not include all of the consulting fees that I received from the company that year. This is business intelligence vendor that prides itself on its information management capabilities and how its products allow it to present a single version of the truth. This was not a one-time occurrence; the company had also made a mistake on my prior year's 1099-MISC. (Yes, I did report the total amount of my consulting income to the IRS!)

Another business intelligence client of mine was later acquired by a major vendor of applications software. When I performed some additional consulting work for the BI vendor following the acquisition, I was asked to submit paperwork to create a new vendor account. Why? Because the application software vendor was unable to locate and transfer my vendor records from the acquired BI (and data integration!) company's vendor file to its own.

Two other vendors that I follow specialize in data quality software and campaign management software respectively. Whenever these vendors issue press releases or Webinar invitations, they send me multiple, yet identical, e-mail messages. Although some of these e-mails are addressed to two different e-mail accounts of mine, at other times I receive multiple e-mails to the same account. Despite my sarcastic replies thanking them for their first e-mail followed by a "thank you again for this e-mail which is identical to the one I received just a few seconds ago," they still send me duplicate e-mails. One of these vendors also once sent me multiple copies of a Webinar event to my e-mail addresses while also sending multiple invitations to the same event to me via my physical U.S. Postal Service address.

Although these examples are probably exceptions to how these companies normally operate, they serve to demonstrate that even the best tools need to be applied with intelligence and common sense. If you have other examples of vendors not practicing what they preach, please send them to me for a possible follow-up article.

I am also considering a future article explaining how businesses have erred in the way they apply data warehousing and business intelligence technology. For example, a major Web vendor continues to suggest products that I have absolutely no interest in simply because I once purchased a gift for a relative's baby but never made a similar (baby-oriented) purchase from the vendor again.

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