Enterprise Information Management

By David Marco

I am honored to be the chairman of the Enterprise Information Management Institute (EIMI) and to have the opportunity to write this monthly column for EIMInsight Magazine. This is my first column so I am going to start it off with a bang by discussing, what else, enterprise information management.

Enterprise information management is one of the hottest topics in information technology (IT) today. We have several clients that we are working with on meta data management efforts that are well beyond the scope of data warehousing and instead are targeting the entire enterprise. This is vital as these organizations have realized that in order to compete in the “Information Age” that they had better manage their information a whole lot more effectively than they have up to this point. These are the organizations that will really have a definitive advantage over their competition in the coming years.

Enterprise Information Management Fundamentals

Enterprise information management (EIM) leverages many disciplines like meta data management, data management, data governance, master data management, service oriented architectures, process management, information security, IT portfolio management, data delivery and data architecture. In future articles I will address each of these focus areas in great detail. For now it is important to understand the fundamental concepts of EIM.

EnterpriseInformation Management (EIM):is the systematic processes and governance procedures for applications, processes, data, and technology from a holistic enterprise perspective. The purpose of enterprise information management is to bring enterprise order, purpose, structure, efficiency, and performance to applications, processes, data, meta data and technology.

As we read through this definition there are several key words. “Systematic” is a vital concept in this definition as you want to automate as much for the EIM process as is possible. If this is omitted then your EIM initiative will just be a bunch of documents and spreadsheets that will be so difficult to manage and grow that eventually they will become neglected and stale. Another important concept in this definition is “holistic”. This implies that the EIM process must not be just a point solution. It is acceptable if it starts as a point solution but it MUST be build to be expanded and grown over time from an enterprise perspective.

Meta Data & Data

Meta data, data and information are three of the most important concepts in EIM. All three of them are linked together and are the foundation of any EIM effort.

Meta Data:Meta data contains the knowledge (context) that a piece of data is called “Customer_Name”, is 40 characters in length, and exists in systems A, B, and C. In addition, meta data would represent that our company has 3 systems which contain customer master data.

Data: Data would be a specific instance (content) of “Customer_Name”. For example, Customer_Name equals “David Marco”.

Information:Data that is meaningful to a business user, meaning that they understand it, trust it and they know what to do with it.

Why “Information” Management and Not “Data” Management

Data on its own has little to no value. I could give you some data “24”, “37” and “42”. OK are you ready to make some key decisions in your company? Of course not, because I only gave you data (content). What I didn’t give you was the meta data (context) relating to the data. If I provided you meta data that stated that these data values are annual net sales revenues, in millions of US dollars for your region over the last 3 years, now you can make decisions and actually utilize this data. Simply put information is the merger of data (content) and meta data (context).

Information = Data + Meta Data

(content) (context)

Why Is EIMI Valuable?

It is important to understand that most companies and large government agencies never planned their IT enterprise; rather, it “just grew” over time. As the IT environment grew as we built “stovepipe” solutions all over the enterprise, nobody (of authority) ever stopped and said “wait a minute we need to optimize and tune this environment so that we can reuse that which we’ve already done.” As a result, our IT environments have grown like weeds that go untreated in a garden. After some time the flowers (applications) can’t grow or survive anymore and the weeds (redundancy and needless interdependencies) are ruling the garden.

Most current IT environments are plagued by excessive levels of data redundancy, process redundancy, technology (software/hardware/middleware) redundancy, massive data quality problems, extended IT development life-cycles, high project failure rates and applications that are so convoluted that they are almost impossible to adapt to changing business needs.

Many IT environments have a budget in the billions of dollars annually. Yet these same companies just assume it will just take care of itself. Any quality EIM professional knows thatData Does Not Manage Itself.

Consolidation vs. Integration

Many organizations confuse consolidation with integration when in reality these two concepts could not be more different. Consolidation endeavors to take ten tables with a million rows a piece and simply merge them into one table with ten million rows. If that ten million row table has 20% data redundancy and 15% data quality problems then that is acceptable as consolidation does not address this problem. Integration looks to take the ten tables and integrate them into one table (maybe more) with 8 million unique rows and data quality problems at 0%.

About the Author

Mr. Marco is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of enterprise information management, data warehousing and business intelligence, and is the world’s foremost authority on meta data management.  He is the author of several widely acclaimed books including “Universal Meta Data Models” and “Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository: A Full Life-Cycle Guide”.  Mr. Marco has taught at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and in 2004 he was selected to the prestigious Crain’s Chicago Business “Top 40 Under 40” and is the chairman of the Enterprise Information Management Institute (www.EIMInstitute.org). He is the founder and President of EWSolutions, a GSA schedule and Chicago-headquartered strategic partner and systems integrator dedicated to providing companies and large government agencies with best-in-class solutions using data warehousing, enterprise architecture, data governance and managed meta data environment technologies (www.EWSolutions.com).  He may be reached directly via email at DMarco@EWSolutions.com

Free Expert Consultation