Jill Dyche (Dish-ay') is a partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting Group, a consulting firm that specializes in the implementation and analysis of customer databases. In addition to managing Baseline's major accounts, she conducts technology audits for key clients and advises Baseline's vendor partners on their information product positioning and delivery strategies.
Since co-founding Baseline in 1991, Dyche has helped clients successfully implement large technology initiatives, which often include not only new systems, but new ways of doing business. She has tackled some of the world's largest customer databases, including those at BellSouth, BancOne, American Express, and the French National Railroad. Prior to starting Baseline, she worked as a system engineer, and later as a consulting manager, for Teradata Corporation, and helped start up another west-coast consulting organization subsequently acquired by Computer Associates.
Dyche is a frequent speaker at marketing and technology conferences, including the WITI Summit Conference in 1998 and 1999. Her articles have been featured in numerous magazines and industry journals, including DBMS, the Wall Street Journal, Telephony Magazine, Teradata Review, Information Week, Oracle Magazine, Data Management Review, The Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Times. Her forthcoming book, e-Data: Turning Data Into Information With Data Warehousing, discusses how companies-including GTE, Qantas Airways, Bank of America, and 20th Century Fox-are leveraging data in innovative ways to capture new customers. The book will be published by Addison Wesley in February 2000.
1. What was your first job in technology?
My first job was as a summer intern at Honeywell. It was crazy-I was an undergraduate one year away from an English degree at UCLA. I knew a lot about the metaphysical poets and pastoral epics, but nothing about technology! It was definitely baptism-by-fire.
2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
It sounds weird, but my mom was a fantastic mentor. She was a high-powered career woman at a time when that term was much more pejorative, and managed to juggle her job and her family. She was also an author, and it's cool all these years later to see our books listed next to each other on Amazon.com.
3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome
My greatest challenge in my twenties was being the only woman on many of the projects and engagements on which I worked, and having to push a little harder because of it.
My greatest challenge in my thirties is making sure that I'm no longer the only woman. (Please send resumes!)
4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
My therapist, and thank God for her. Seriously, there've been so many, but I would have to say my partner, Evan. He is really everything I'm not, so I learn something new from him every single day.
5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their
careers in technology?
That it gets easier. Really! Even though if you're any good at what you do your responsibilities will inevitably pile on and time management becomes the holy grail, over time you get kind of zen about your career and are able to put it in context with the rest of your life. Plus, one of the great things about getting older is that people do take you more seriously. Not once in the past ten years has someone greeted me in the hallway with, "Hey, where's my smile?" Now that's a relief!
6. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the
world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?
Well, I think Customer Relationship Management technology is a really big deal. Moreover, the combination of CRM with data warehouses and the Internet is allowing companies to gather information about their customers, and thus understand who they are, their preferences, and their long-term value like never before. It can shift the competitive balance-of-power across industries like never before.
Of course as with everything else, the pendulum does swing, so I'm also on the lookout for new privacy software and the accompanying legislation that enable consumers to opt out. This is good news for consumers, but not such good news for the companies vying for them.
On a lighter note:
1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?
Gloria Steinem and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I'd just sit back and watch the fur fly.
2. What was the last book you read? What books do you love to recommend?
The Nudist on the Late Shift, by Po Bronson. Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth and John Robbins' Diet for A New America both changed my life. As far as fiction, I really liked Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden-it sucks you into another place and time-and anything by Frank McCourt or Reynolds Price.
3. If you couldn't do what you are doing now, what profession would you choose?
I'd be a fiction writer. I took a few months off to write my book, and I fear I ended up enjoying the solitude a bit too much.
4. What is your definition of success?
First, knowing your bliss. Second, finding it. Third, being able to finish a 60-minute spinning class without passing out.