When building a house…

Christian Dirschl
Written by Christian Dirschl
on March 17, 2014

Maybe you read in your childhood the famous French Asterix comic book series. I especially like Edifis (or as he is called in other languages Numérobis), an Egyptian architect in the “Asterix and Cleopatra” volume. He is the best architect Egypt can provide, but his buildings are really horrible. They seem to collapse every minute and obviously there is no proper basis or even a sufficient plan used during construction. Sometimes I think that many people in our industry still work like Numérobis.

Numérobis’ buildings use a bottom up approach. Based on what is available, construction starts and subsequently one layer of bricks is put on top of the other. Although isolated parts somehow look nice, the overall result in the end is a disaster. So how should we build a temple instead?

I strongly believe that when we think about something new, we should not start with a temple as a building, but as an idea – as something that serves a specific purpose. When we know that purpose, then we can start thinking about how best to achieve this purpose. Which might – or might not – lead to building a temple.

Another important aspect is that we need to accept basic conditions and work on these accordingly. Stable ones like gravity, fluent ones like fashion trends and completely new ones like the usage of marble instead of sand stone (and the consequences that come with it!).

Our main challenge when using “marble stone” from now on for our information products is to accept that the business we are active in is currently in a phase of disruption and the ways we used to build our temples simply do not work anymore.

Consequences are manifold, starting with completely new ways of information access, toward needing a different information strategy and architecture in the background, up to serving new business models in a new application setting. But the “glue” to be able to bring all these aspects together is making collaboration proactively a cornerstone of all our efforts. With that I mean collaboration across departments, business units, countries, divisions and even industries. This could even lead to “sacrifice” existing assets within the company, when others are better on that topic and are willing to cooperate. There should be no boundaries in our thinking when looking for the most promising options. I will be looking for new collaboration opportunities this Wednesday in Athens at the European Data Forum.

Numérobis finally succeeded in creating (even within the given timeframe) an impressive building – but only with the help of his friends from the other side of world!



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  1. Ornella Zampieri on at

    Thank you for sharing, Christian! And congratulation for chairing the Big Data Best Practice session in Athens.
    I’m looking forward to hear from you about that event and outcomings.

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