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The Executive Guide To Corporate Data


Business intelligence capability is becoming a key competitive driver in most major corporations. A key requirement in any business intelligence program is for the business, rather than IT, to accept ownership of corporate data.

This sends shivers down the spines of most corporate executives, already overloaded with information and decisions.

However, in a previous article “Using Business Intelligence To Power Jump Your Corporate Performance” we highlighted business ownership of corporate data as one of the three key requisites of a successful BI program.

This executive guide to corporate data will outline the key data elements that need to be understood by executives before the enterprise embarks on implementing a BI program.

Corporate Data is defined in terms of:

  1. Master Data
  2. Meta Data

Master Data

Master data defines how the business operates – the business objects, definitions, classifications, and terminology that describe business information as well as the context for recording transaction data. Master data reference information is key to the operation of business.

Reference information includes data about customers, products, employees, materials, suppliers, etc. and is mostly non-transactional. Master data may however support transactional processes and operations.

Master data forms the foundation of analytics and reporting and for this purpose, it is stored in a data warehouse or data marts, and is managed using the discipline of Master Data Management [MDM].

Meta Data

Metadata is essentially data about data that is used to identify data in the data warehouse, making it discoverable based on queries that business managers enter into the BI application. In this way, Metadata is used to facilitate the understanding, use and management of data. Types of Metadata include the name of the file, the file type, the data the data was created, the description of an image, scene descriptions within a video,

Metadata is generally structured into a hierarchy - called a schema and is stored in a metadata registry, which can be accessed by multiple systems

Difference Between Data And Metadata

It is often difficult to distinguish between raw data and metadata because something can be data and metadata at the same time - the headline of an article is both its title (metadata) and part of its text (data).

Why The Business Owns Data

It is important that the business define what it considers master data, and with the guidance of IT, agree on how to define that master data, using meta data. If this is not agreed, and a formal schema and registry implemented, there will be no way of connecting data in different systems or at different locations together in a meaningful manner. And data only has meaning to the business users. To IT, data is merely something that must be stored, kept secure and made easily available, only to permitted users.

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