Portals eNewsletters Web Seminars dataWarehouse.com DM Review Magazine
DM Review | Covering Business Intelligence, Integration & Analytics
   Covering Business Intelligence, Integration & Analytics Advanced Search

View all Portals

Scheduled Events

White Paper Library
Research Papers

View Job Listings
Post a job


DM Review Home
Current Magazine Issue
Magazine Archives
Online Columnists
Ask the Experts
Industry News
Search DM Review

Buyer's Guide
Industry Events Calendar
Monthly Product Guides
Software Demo Lab
Vendor Listings

About Us
Press Releases
Advertising/Media Kit
Magazine Subscriptions
Editorial Calendar
Contact Us
Customer Service

Meta Data and Data Administration:
Meta Data ROI: Meta Data Solutions, Part 3

  Column published in DM Review Magazine
October 1999 Issue
  By David Marco

In my September column, I discussed the technical and business challenges that corporations are experiencing. These challenges include:

  • Rapidly changing business requirements
  • Poorly integrated and inflexible current systems
  • Unfulfilled business user needs
  • Data quality
  • Data redundancy

This final installment on meta data return on investment (ROI) will examine the solutions that a meta data repository provides to these challenges. While these challenges are daunting indeed, corporate executives are discovering answers to them in the form of meta data. The functionality that a meta data repository provides to address these challenges includes:

Impact Analysis: A meta data repository significantly reduces the costs of development and the time frame by allowing the IT (information technology) development team to run technical impact analysis reports across all corporate systems stored in the meta data repository. These impact analysis reports significantly aid the design analysts as they examine the impact of proposed changes into the DSS (decision support system) environment. For example, let's suppose that a company was reorganizing their geographic locations. Currently, Mexico and Canada sales are grouped with U.S. sales, and the company's management decides that they need to separate these sales numbers. The meta data repository would allow the development team to generate an impact analysis report showing all systems and programs that use geographic regions. This benefits the development team by minimizing the costs of the system enhancement and helps to reduce the propensity of new development errors.

Anyone who doubts the value of this analysis need look no further than the Y2K situation. What is Y2K? In the early years of software development, programmers stored the year portion of a date in a field that could only hold a two-digit number (e.g., 90) instead of a field that could hold a four-digit number (e.g., 1990). As a result, many information technology systems in businesses today will not function properly with dates beyond December 31, 1999. If we stop and think about it, Y2K is merely a date field that has been designed to hold a two-digit year instead of a four-digit year. Therefore, this is just a change in a field's length. When the problem is considered in these terms, it doesn't appear to be highly significant. However, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan estimates that several hundred billion dollars will be spent trying to fix the computer glitch before the turn of the century. It would have been interesting to see the ramifications of this situation for companies with a meta data repository that would allow them to run impact analysis reports. It certainly would have drastically reduced the impact of the Y2K system change by making the systems much more flexible.

Transforming Data into Knowledge. The reason we exist as IT professionals is to meet the informational needs of our business users. As discussed in the September column, our current systems are falling well short of meeting these needs. A recent survey asked CEOs, "Do you feel your IT systems meet the needs of your business?" Eighty-four percent of these CEOs felt that their IT systems did not meet the needs of their business. This number is staggering and sends a clear message to all CIOs and IT directors. We, as IT professionals, must do a significantly better job at fulfilling the needs of our business executives, because they are demanding us to pay greater attention to the value IT brings to the business.

One of the reasons this is occurring is that instead of designing systems that speak to our business users in the business terms with which they are familiar, we have built systems that communicate to them in IT terms. Meta data addresses this situation by providing a semantic layer between IT systems and business users. In simple terms, meta data seeks to translate the technical terminology into business terms that are familiar to the users. For example, when a business user is looking at profitability numbers, it is very valuable to them to understand the formula used to calculate the numbers and what systems were sourced to provide the data for the formula.

Many legacy systems contain redundant or inaccurate data. This lack of data quality in the operational systems has caused more than one decision support effort to fail. As a result, this operational data must be cleaned before it is loaded into the data warehouse to ensure its usability. Meta data is critical for monitoring and improving the quality of the data coming from the operational systems. Meta data tracks the number of errors that occurred during each data warehouse load run and can report when certain error thresholds are reached. In addition, the DSS data quality metrics should be stored over the history of the DSS system. This allows corporations to monitor their data quality over time.


Check out DMReview.com's resource portals for additional related content, white papers, books and other resources.

David Marco is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of enterprise architecture, data warehousing and business intelligence and is the world's foremost authority on meta data. He is the author of Universal Meta Data Models (Wiley, 2004) and Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository: A Full Life-Cycle Guide (Wiley, 2000). Marco has taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University, and in 2004 he was selected to the prestigious Crain's Chicago Business "Top 40 Under 40."  He is the founder and president of Enterprise Warehousing Solutions, Inc., a GSA schedule and Chicago-headquartered strategic partner and systems integrator dedicated to providing companies and large government agencies with best-in-class business intelligence solutions using data warehousing and meta data repository technologies. He may be reached at (866) EWS-1100 or via e-mail at DMarco@EWSolutions.com.

Solutions Marketplace
Provided by IndustryBrains

Data Validation Tools: FREE Trial
Protect against fraud, waste and excess marketing costs by cleaning your customer database of inaccurate, incomplete or undeliverable addresses. Add on phone check, name parsing and geo-coding as needed. FREE trial of Data Quality dev tools here.

Speed Databases 2500% - World's Fastest Storage
Faster databases support more concurrent users and handle more simultaneous transactions. Register for FREE whitepaper, Increase Application Performance With Solid State Disk. Texas Memory Systems - makers of the World's Fastest Storage

Manage Data Center from Virtually Anywhere!
Learn how SecureLinx remote IT management products can quickly and easily give you the ability to securely manage data center equipment (servers, switches, routers, telecom equipment) from anywhere, at any time... even if the network is down.

Design Databases with ER/Studio: Free Trial
ER/Studio delivers next-generation data modeling. Multiple, distinct physical models based on a single logical model give you the tools you need to manage complex database environments and critical metadata in an intuitive user interface.

Free EII Buyer's Guide
Understand EII - Trends. Tech. Apps. Calculate ROI. Download Now.

Click here to advertise in this space

View Full Issue View Full Magazine Issue
E-mail This Column E-Mail This Column
Printer Friendly Version Printer-Friendly Version
Related Content Related Content
Request Reprints Request Reprints
Site Map Terms of Use Privacy Policy
SourceMedia (c) 2006 DM Review and SourceMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
SourceMedia is an Investcorp company.
Use, duplication, or sale of this service, or data contained herein, is strictly prohibited.