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Jill Dyché

There you are! What took you so long? This is my blog and it's about YOU.

Yes, you. Or at least it's about your company. Or people you work with in your company. Or people at other companies that are a lot like you. Or people at other companies that you'd rather not resemble at all. Or it's about your competitors and what they're doing, and whether you're doing it better. You get the idea. There's a swarm of swamis, shrinks, and gurus out there already, but I'm just a consultant who works with lots of clients, and the dirty little secret - shhh! - is my clients share a lot of the same challenges around data management, data governance, and data integration. Many of their stories are universal, and that's where you come in.

I'm hoping you'll pour a cup of tea (if this were another Web site, it would be a tumbler of single-malt, but never mind), open the blog, read a little bit and go, "Jeez, that sounds just like me." Or not. Either way, welcome on in. It really is all about you.

About the author >

Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

By Stephen Putman, Senior Consultant

One of the most promising developments in data management over the last ten years is the rise of semantic processing, commonly referred to as the "Semantic Web." Briefly described, semantic processing creates a "web of data" complimenting the "web of documents" of the World Wide Web. The benefits of such an array of linked data are many, but the main benefit could the ability for machines to mine for needed data to enhance searches, recommendations, and the like, where humans do this now.

Unfortunately, the growth of the semantic data industry has been slower than anticipated, mainly due to a "chicken and egg" problem - the systems needs descriptive metadata to be added to existing structures to function efficiently, but major data management companies are reluctant to invest a great deal into creating tools to do this until an appropriate return on investment is demonstrated. I feel that there is an even more basic issue with the adoption of semantics that has nothing to do with tools or investment - we need the implementers and managers of data systems to change their thinking about how they do their jobs; to make metadata production central to the systems they produce.

The interoperability and discoverability of data is becoming an increasingly important requirements for organizations of all types - the financial industry is keenly aware of the requirements of reporting systems that are XBRL-enabled, for example. If we leave external requirements to the side, the same requirements can benefit the internal reporting of the organization as well. Reporting systems go through extended periods of design and implementation, with their contents and design a seemingly well-guarded secret. Consequently, effort is required for departments not originally included in the system design to discover and use appropriate data for their operations.

The organization and publication of metadata about these reporting systems can mitigate the cost of this discovery and use by the entire organization. Here is a sample of the metadata produced by every database system, either formally or informally:

  • System-schema-table-column
  • Frequency of update
  • Input source(s)
  • Ownership-stewardship
  • Security level

The collection and publication of such metadata in  standard forms  will prepare your organization for the coming ”semantic wave," even if you do not have a specific application that can utilize this data at the present time. This will give your organization an advantage over those companies that wait for these requirements to be implemented and will need to play catch-up. You will also gain the advantage of your staff thinking in terms of metadata capture and dissemination, which will help your company become more efficient in its data management functions.

photo by ~Brenda-Starr~ via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

StevePutman_bw_100Stephen Putman has over 20 years experience supporting client/server and internet-based operations from small offices to major corporations.   He has extensive experience in a variety of front-end development tools, as well as relational database design and administration, and is extremely effective in project management and leadership roles. He is the co-author of The Data Governance eBook, available at information-management.com.

Posted December 14, 2010 6:00 AM
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