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Ralph Kimball, Founder at Kimball Group
Sandy Lines, CEO, InfoBridge

Ralph Kimball has been designing data warehouse systems and teaching dimensional data warehouse design since 1992. His series of bestselling books, written with his colleagues at the Kimball Group, have been dominant bestsellers in the data warehouse category since 1996, with more than 355 000 books sold. His flagship book, The Data Warehouse Toolkit, 3rd edition, was published in July of this year.
 
Kimball received his PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1973, after building a computer-assisted tutor that taught concepts of calculus to students, but at the same time was able to learn superior problem-solving techniques from the students themselves. Shortly after earning his doctorate, Kimball went to work at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

PARC was a research think-tank that attracted the best and the brightest engineers and computer scientists in the early 1970s. PARC’s pioneering innovations still impact users daily – client-server computing, the Ethernet, laser printing, graphical user interfaces, including windows and icons, the mouse, object-oriented programming, and the list goes on.

While at PARC, Kimball spent four years as a research scientist specialising in user interface design, and then joined a group dedicated to building products based on the research prototypes demonstrated at PARC. Contrary to most product development practices at the time, a guiding principle for Kimball and his colleagues was to focus first on the user experience, then progress to the design of the underlying hardware and software.

With the early adoption of some PARC innovations in Xerox’s experimental Alto workstation, Kimball’s team co-invented the first commercial product that incorporated a bitmapped display for a graphical user interface, including icons and windows, Ethernet networking, file and printer servers, and a mouse. Their user interface mimicked the office paradigm with a desktop and icons depicting documents, folders, and e-mail so it was intuitive to users. Kimball was the product manager for the introduction of the Xerox Star workstation in 1981, the same year that IBM introduced PC-DOS.

Over 355,000 Kimball Toolkit books sold, click here for more information on these bestsellers.
Steve Jobs and other Apple engineers observed a demonstration of Xerox’s Alto computer in 1980, and Kimball gave Steve Jobs a demo of the Star workstation during its announcement in 1981. Jobs obviously grasped the commercial potential of PARC’s mouse-driven GUI; these concepts were subsequently incorporated in the Apple Lisa, which was released in 1983, followed by the Macintosh in 1984.

In the autumn of 1982, Kimball and several research colleagues and business leaders left Xerox to launch a company called Metaphor Computer Systems, to focus on the data access and analysis needs of business professionals. During the product research phase, Kimball learned about the paper-based syndicated data from AC Nielsen, and others, which were used for competitive analysis. The marketers from AC Nielsen described their data in terms of dimensions and facts. Thus, while Kimball didn’t invent fact tables and dimension tables, he was quick to envision a much broader applicability of these concepts for decision support across a variety of industries. Over the last 30 years, Kimball has extended the original fact and dimension concepts and created the industry practice of dimensional modelling. He is widely acknowledged as the inventor of this methodology.

Metaphor released an integrated hardware and software product in 1984, with file servers, database servers, and workstations (including unattached keyboards and mice), linked together by the Ethernet. The workstations delivered a graphical user interface with query, spreadsheet, and plotting tools, along with a Capsule tool that Kimball invented in 1982. The Capsule, originally called “graphical pipes”, was a programming tool which connected the separate icons on the desktop with arrows that directed the flow of data from icon to icon. The Capsule could export the results of a query into a spreadsheet, then into a graph, and finally to an e-mail outbox or a printer. These capabilities are taken for granted today, but it was rocket science nearly 30 years ago. Kimball’s design of graphical workflows subsequently became the dominant theme in ETL tools and system scheduling tools.

In 1986, Kimball left Metaphor to found Red Brick Systems, providing the first database server technology dedicated to the high performance needs of decision support. In 1992, Kimball recruited Chris Erickson to assume the role of CEO, and to subsequently take Red Brick public in 1994. Red Brick was ultimately acquired by IBM.
 
Sandy Lines is CEO at InfoBridge. She started her career in IT more than 30 years ago as a mainframe developer in an insurance company. Her passion for technology and business led her to a software sales and support organisation, where she enjoyed the challenges of providing technical support and solutions as well as technical training to the clients. In 1989, she went on to form Connection42, an organisation that specialised in IT services, consulting and selective outsourcing. This experience formed a solid and expansive foundation for her progression into the area of data insights. InfoBridge™ was formed in 2008 to address the growing demand for information-driven innovation. With her extensive experience over the years, Sandy and her team are well positioned to share their learnings, and provide effective solutions to enable data-driven insights to business solutions.
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Resource InfoBridge™ is a leading IT Solutions and Services Organisation that deploys integrated Business Intelligence (BI) solutions with local expertise, experience and understanding.

We specialize in building and supporting the clients' information management philosophy in order to achieve strategic objectives.

In order to provide the best possible service, we nurture strategic partnerships with a select client base to effect smooth and efficient delivery of our solutions.

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