W.Edwars Deming once said: “The customer is the most important part of the production line.”
In terms of engineering information-assets (getting relevant data to the end-user and doing valuable stuff with it) this still holds big value, but...there is a misconception I would like to stipulate. The misconception that users in an organisation are 'customers'. I hear that quite a lot and I find it disturbing and dangerous.
Please, please, please...do not...do never treat the recipients or users of information assets within your organisation a customer. These so-called customers are paid by the same people as you, whether you are an engineer, designer, architect, manager or the freakin coffee machine. You and this so-called customer are part of an organisation....
... joined by collective goals - that is why you are organised in a single entity called 'organisation'. Customer are those people or entities in the external environment - outside the organisation. Got it?
These users, that are sometimes referred to as 'customers' are, as Deming intended, a vital part of the production process of Information assets. But with users there is more....They need to be involved and are as accountable as anyone in the organisation involved in making relevant information-assets with scarce resources.
These users can not say 'I am a customer, thou have to listen to me' or 'the data sucks, you gotta fix it' or 'the data does not reconcile, I will never use this again' or 'I know we have tool X, but I just acquired tool Y'. It is a jointly effort with joint accountabilities between engineer and user, where both are joint in the common goals of the organization.
So, if you are a BICC manager, an ETL developer, a data modeler, a BI consultant or whatever, and someone comes up to you saying 'I am a customer and I want X' - you know what to say.
Stop treating internal users of information assets as customers.