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15 08 2014
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30 10 2012
Tom Wickerath

Paul,

You included the following comment, which I believe is a “the glass is half-empty” view:

“This brings a very interesting question to bare. Isn’t this what we did with Microsoft Access? Are we setting the stage for a new generation of poorly-designed, user-created applications that promote desktop data sprawl and a general lack of standardization?”

Have a look at a paper written by Luke Chung, President of FMS, Inc., a very well respected company that creates great tools for users of Access, SQL Server, and .NET software. In this paper, Luke includes the following quote:

Successful databases evolve over time. A good IT strategy embraces, not fights, this natural trend. Anticipating the transition is part of a successful database strategy. That means preparing for times when applications need to migrate to new platforms or be completely re-written.

When these occur, one should not blame the existing platform, but rather celebrate the success of the organization and the system that took it to the next level. The existing system should be considered a great prototype for the next system since the business needs are well defined and users accept it. This significantly reduces the risk of the new system in a world where expensive systems are never delivered or built or fulfill a fraction of their original intent.

Source: Database Evolution: Microsoft Access within an Organization’s Database Strategy

http://www.fmsinc.com/MicrosoftAccess/Strategy/index.asp#hateaccess

So, how about celebrating these successes, instead of having a mindset that IT must somehow be involved in everything. As a 27 year employee of a Fortune 50 company, I can tell you, it “ain’t gonna happen”, no matter how much you wish otherwise. The reason is simple: Most IT departments are simply too busy, do not truly understand customer requirements, and often-times deliver unsatisfactory applications at huge costs to the departments. Yes, I speak from first-hand knowledge here.

Tom Wickerath

Microsoft Access MVP Alumni
April 2006 to March, 2012

11 12 2012
Paul Turley

Tom

Thank you for your thoughtful response to this post and I apologize for taking so long to reply. I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment about business-user-created solutions. I chose to use Access as an example because I knew that it would evoke some emotion but more than just stirring the pot to get people riled-up, I wanted to make the point that powerful tools in the right hands can be used to do amazing things. Fifteen years ago, I was that Access jockey, working in the trenches near the production lines, trying to solve business problems that a large corporate IT group was not solving because they had other things to do – and we were very successful. Yes, Access is a tool that lets people who are close to the business create solutions that can move the business forward in positive ways. If people in the organization, in various roles (analysts, management, IT, executives, etc.) are working together toward common goals, these efforts can result in appropriately-managed and supported systems that solve problems and provide real value. The glass is half-full… sometimes. Like Access, PowerPivot and other next-generation analysis tools will be used for good and evil and the partnership between data-skilled business users and IT professionals, who are charged with the responsibility to protect and govern corporate data, will become even more critical than ever before.

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