The prevalence of enterprise applications and the emphasis on closing the loop between operational systems and data warehousing applications has catapulted data quality to the forefront of consideration for many organizations. Common practice includes incorporating data profiling and cleansing activities into data warehouse and customer relationship management (CRM) project plans. Vendors often suggest that full leverage of their tools requires utilization of results from profiling activities to identify data problems and their root causes, recommend solutions and change business processes. These suggestions go far beyond the traditional data warehouse or CRM implementation project. In fact, they beg for the type of business intelligence (BI) and data stewardship excellence centers that are gaining in popularity today. The excellence center is a formal group that spans the organization, has both staff and technology, and aims to manage the corporation's BI or data assets in order to ensure high reusability, accessibility and quality.
Establishing a formal center of excellence is like buying a top-of-the-line luxury car with the best possible protection package and warranty; expensive, but also the most effective way to ensure a consistent, high-quality ride. Let's say you have budget and sponsorship to start a data warehouse program or implement a CRM application, but it's not quite enough to establish the enterprise center of excellence advocated by the experts. Are you relegated to taking the bus? Not necessarily. With the proper building blocks in place and the management of a few critical success factors, you should be able to fully leverage your technology, fix (not just identify) data problems at the root cause and even effect changes to business processes, albeit on a smaller scale - one limited to those quality problems affecting your BI or CRM project.
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