The Data Studio

Dumas the Gullible

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Dumas the Gullible

Dumas the Gullible is an IT Manager. Dumas is a French name, but in this case it isn't pronounced the French way. You will have the pleasure of meeting Dumas the Gullible on some of the other pages at The Data Studio.

I have never understood why computer programmers have to work for IT Managers, but in big organisations that always seems to be the case. Sometimes these IT Managers are called Programme Directors. There's not much difference between them really, and sometimes you get both.

Dumas is based on a number of managers that I have worked for. I have also had some good managers, and Dumas doesn't reflect any of them.

Dumas is in his mid forties. He is married with two small children. He is tall and thin, fashionably dressed. He follows the fashions of those more than 20 years younger than him. He likes a beer and he likes things that give him an adrenaline rush. He thinks You Me Bum Bum Train would be a great team-building event. Dumas is a really funny guy. We should have seen him as the cowboy in the Village People tribute. He was so funny! He told us so, several times, and then he shared the video on the company email.

Dumas loves his job, except when he has to deal with programmers. Most of the time the programmers don't want to deal with him, so it works pretty well. He can easily find things to pass the day: there is always online shopping to do for his barely-street-legal limited-edition Lotus sports car. He does find it useful to have some of his team around sometimes, like when he was shopping for his new home cinema. He had two analysts and a project manager helping him all afternoon to get the optimum kit.

Programmers are no fun. He tells them to "big it up!" when they present their work, but they just don't get it. They bring him problems, when, as he tells them, what he wants is solutions. But he does like sales people. These people really understand business, and they really want to help! "Are your programmers taking too long with their ETL processes? No problem! Our Data Ingest tool streams data from your operational systems straight into the Data Lake. No ETL; no problem!" Dumas is beaming already. Dumas frowns again: "they keep telling me that they don't have enough information to build the schema, nobody can tell them what some of the fields mean". The salesman comes right back: "there's no need to worry about that; we don't build a schema up-front; we have 'schema-on-read'". "Wonderful", says Dumas.

Dumas loves Gartner. He can always use Gartner to justify spending money on the product that his friend the salesman says is the latest hot thing. The salesman has all the Gartner Magic Quadrants and with a judicious mix of Leaders, Challengers and Visionaries he can help Dumas build his image as a responsible but forward-thinking executive. Who needs the techies to do their long assessments and Proofs of Concept? Gartner has already distilled everything down to four categories! Win, win!

A few months later, when the new products are installed and the developers have had the training, the salesman is back, sniffing around for more problems that might bring him another sale. He tells Dumas that their user conference is coming up and, since Dumas has been so far-sighted and is leading the way in analytics-at-scale, they wonder if he would like to present his great success at their user conference. Dumas has been here before (not quite so dumb, eh?) so he says that he is not sure if he has time to build a really convincing presentation deck. "No problem" says the salesman, "we've been involved with your project all the way, so I can have one of our guys write it for you. We just need you to present it and then share your experience with other thought-leaders from the great companies we are working with". "I guess that will work", says Dumas, "where is your conference this year?". "Las Vegas", says the salesman, "same as last year". "Win, win, win, win" thinks Dumas to himself, "free trip to Vegas, without the wife, no presentation to write, and sleazy Steve [one of his drinking buddies] will be so pissed off!".

Back from Vegas, Dumas is buzzing. I hope to pour cold water on his ebullience by telling him that the graphics package he commissioned from Smallbucks does not do what it says in the spec. He is not much bothered, just a bit irritated that I'm bringing him bad news. He retaliates by telling me that the budget for my project has been cut. Damn! We looked like being able to deliver everything the users wanted. So I say: "have you paid Smallbucks for the graphics package yet?". He doesn't know. I say: "Well can you check? Because we shouldn't be paying for something that doesn't do what we asked. They seem to have used this money to build something that they might be able to sell, but our requirement was for a very specific graphic showing the networks we build. We could use that money to finish our project for our users." Dumas looks at me as if I have lost my mind. "I don't care about the users", he says, with absolute contempt. Dumas is not keen to do anything about this. I pass the news on to the users, who are senior engineers in the hardware side of the company, and I explain the situation with the Smallbucks payment. Dumas is seriously pissed off that I told the users what was going on. Eventually he agrees to tell the Smallbucks VP, who catches the next plane and heads for a meeting with Dumas. They meet for about an hour and both come out smiling. Dumas heads to his desk and orders a pair of high-lift camshafts for his Lotus. I find out later that we have agreed to pay Smallbucks, in full.

You may say that all this makes Dumas smart. If so, I think you're on the wrong website.