Cyber Monday for Data Models

by Nov 27, 2015

Just in case you've been head-down into your data models for too long, in the US the Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. Traditionally this is a day for massive sales and steep discounts to ensure that Americans start their holiday shopping with gusto.  Over the years, Black Friday has been creeping earlier and earlier in the week and now starts on Thursday for some of the most desperate shoppers. These originally were brick and mortar store sales, but these days Black Friday online shopping starts sometime in November, days or weeks before Thanksgiving.


Back when the Internet was something new enough that few people had fast access at home, the retail industry spawned Cyber Monday into the holiday weekend.  Monday, because most people were back to work and Cyber, because they weren't really getting back to work but shopping online.  These days, since most people have faster Internet access at home, Cyber Monday has also been sliding all over the calendar, also starting sometime in November.


Now we have CyberBlackThanksday or something like that going on. You can get deals online from home, your car, your train or your desk. The Internet just works everywhere, so I hear.


Watching al this from Canada (our Thanksgiving was in October), it got me thinking about what sort of "deals" a data modeler might make their teams on Cyber Monday. I was also full of stuffing and pumpkin pie (I still celebrate both sets of holidays), which may explain a lot more about this post than I want to admit.


Data Model Cyber Monday Specials


I want you to offer your team members a "deal" on in the project data models to make Monday feel like it was worth it coming in to work. I want your teams to feel the same way 3 AM shoppers feel about all those great deals they are getting.  Besides, no one is really working that hard on Monday — heck, half your team may be still stuck at ORD trying to get home via United.  So let's take Monday to make our data models shinier. And Happier.

Some ideas for your Cyber Monday flyers:


Diagram cleaning: Spend 30 minutes uncrossing some lines in submodels.  Re-lay out some diagrams so that they can be printed larger. Your team isn't getting any younger. And neither are you.


Diagram e-book: Spend 30 minutes writing up how a particularly tricky part of the model (highly generalized, key-value pairs, recursive, etc.) works, throwing in a data story and some sample data to demonstrate how it all fits together.


Training: Spend 30 minutes to record a quick video on how people who rarely use ER/Studio can open up a model and pull together their own self-serve submodel.  Put it out on your intranet.   


FAQ: Spend one hour to scan through your e-mails and instant messages to see if you get common questions about data modeling or databases and prepare a FAQ. Put it on SharePoint or intranet.


Modeling Support: Spend an hour going through Team Server (data model and meta data portal) and answer some questions or respond to discussions going on there.


Professional Support: Spend 30 minutes writing thank you emails that show gratitude and spell out the extra steps someone did to make your project team more successful. E-mail it, copying their boss and your key business client as well.  Use the hashtag #datahugs for bonus points.

Community Support: Go on the ER/Studio forums, Twitter and LinkedIn and find some data modeling questions and answer them.  We don't do that nearly enough and the answers people are getting on the Internet are downright awful. 


Thank Yourself 

If you spent your day on Monday having your own "Cyber Monday for Data Models", your teams will be happier, your users will be happier, and our community will be stronger.  Grab a coffee and some of those holiday cookies and be thankful you gave back.  I know I'm thankful you did.  Great job!