Managing Meta Data for the Business: Enable Enterprise Applications – Part 5 of 5

By David Marco

Corporate Challenges

  • Reduce IT redundancy
  • Provide IT portfolio management
  • Prevent IT applications failure
  • Reduce IT expenditures
  • Enable knowledge management
  • Adhere to regulatory requirements
  • Enable enterprise applications


Enable Enterprise Applications

Without an enterprise-wide MME, your organization does not have a common understanding of the data across its systems. How do you build an enterprise-wide application (that is, a customer relationship management (CRM), a data warehousing, or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system) without an enterprise-view understanding of the data? The answer for most companies is that they can’t. This is why many research firms state that CRM initiatives fail over 90 percent of the time. In fact, Tom Siebel proclaimed that “There’s no market for CRM . . . It’s not there. There are a lot of companies trying to get into the space, but they are going after a market that doesn’t exist. [1]

Realistically, this is not the case, because there is a clear business need to understand and manage all of a customer’s touch points. So why does the man who marketed CRM the most and made the most money from it, claim that it is dead? Maybe it’s because these CRM initiatives are highly complex and as a result have created a large number of expensive failures. These failures, along with a compressed IT economy, may have caused companies to abandon CRM. Personally, I don’t expect Siebel Systems to stop making CRM software. On the other hand, I interpret Tom Siebel’s comments to mean that we have to get ready for a new term for the same old thing.

In a January 2000 article for DM Review (“Data Warehousing Trends for 2000”), I gave predictions for the future of the data-warehousing industry. In writing this article, I realized that the most important thing that I could do was to make sure that my predictions were accurate. Therefore, the first prediction was that most large government agencies and Global 2000 companies would spend a great deal of time and money rebuilding their data-warehousing investments. This was a simple and easy prediction to make. During the 1990s, corporations raced to build their data warehouses as quickly as they could. In their zeal to do this, many organizations neglected to build the architecture necessary to grow their systems over time. In many cases, these companies built “independent” data marts, which are directly sourced from operational systems without a data warehouse. These companies also neglected to implement an MME. Without an MME, it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to maintain and enhance a data warehouse.

This is especially true if a company has implemented multiple, disparate data-warehousing systems. Having multiple data warehouses can lead to the following problems:

  • Duplicate data
  • Duplicate reports and queries
  • Increased strain on operational batch windows
  • Multiple versions of the truth

An MME addresses the excessive IT redundancies in this type of environment and acts as the “glue” that binds the data warehouses together. This makes MMEs even more vital in a cluttered environment.

Global 2000 companies spend billionsof dollarsanalyzing existing data-warehousing systems for requirements and business rules, which have long since been forgotten. All of these requirements and business rules should have been initially managed in the MME. These same companies will continue to invest equally large expenditures into CRM and other enterprise-spanning applications. If you do not properly manage your meta data, you will have a very difficult time implementing enterprise-wide systems.

MMEs may not be as glamorous as CRM applications; however, these projects deliver real value as opposed to the 90 percent plus failure rate. Running a successful business is about concentrating single-mindedly on the fundamentals and then executing those fundamentals.

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 ( 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 (  He may be reached directly via email at

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