Part one of this two-part series (see my July column in DM Review) posed the question: "Should your CIO care about meta data management?" In answering this question, I cited a survey which asked CIOs to rank those key technologies that would create innovation in their company (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Key Technologies For Innovation1

Last month, I walked through the reasons why CIOs view redesigning/rationalizing IT architecture and data access/data warehousing as key innovative technologies and the vital role that meta data management plays in both of these. We will now complete our view of this list by examining knowledge management.

Knowledge Management

Benjamin Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Corporations are still trying to fully grasp what Franklin knew years ago: knowledge is their most valuable asset. Knowledge management is the gathering, retaining and disseminating of intellectual capital (i.e., data, information and knowledge) to enable/achieve business objectives. Meta data is the data on the knowledge that is within your organization. Therefore, knowledge management systems are applications that manage meta data. This is why a managed meta data environment (MME) is the technical solution for knowledge management.

What About the Others?

While I did not directly address the remaining technologies CIOs cite as important for innovation, it is important to understand that all of them have varying degrees of meta data management requirements. For example, applications such as e-commerce systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), wireless/mobile systems and supply chain automation all have meta data about their processes and data elements. Also, newer innovations such as RFID (radio frequency identification), grid computing and Web services are all greatly assisted by enterprise meta data management.

As we can see, all of the technologies that CIOs cite as important for innovation have varying meta data management requirements, with the top two technologies (redesigning/rationalizing IT architecture and data access/data warehousing) being absolutely dependent on good meta data management to be successful and sustainable.

The same CIOs that listed these innovative technologies were also asked: "What is the goal of your innovative efforts?" Figure 2 shows that 81 percent of CIOs view the goal of "reducing costs/improving productivity" as a key goal of their innovation. What is the top goal of  the vast majority of highly successful MME efforts? You guessed it - it is to reduce costs and improve business user productivity.

Figure 2: What Is The Goal Of Innovative Efforts?2

Necessary Evil?

Is meta data management a "necessary evil"? Hardly. There are many people that have devoted their careers to implementing managed meta data environments and building meta data management organizations. Having talked to thousands of these people over the years, I can attest that they are very passionate about their work. They live meta data management 24x7 and they tend to be very upbeat and positive.

Should Your CIO Care?

Those of us who have been in the meta data industry for a long time have seen a surprising change in the level of people looking at meta data management. For example, in the early 1990s, whenever I would speak to a CIO, CFO or CEO, I was very careful not to use the word meta data as I realized it would be poor use of their limited time if I tried to explain the topic. Rather, I would talk about a database and the strategic functions and features that it would provide to their company. Over the last six to seven years, these C-level people are now asking me about meta data. While there is still a way to go before this understanding is as widespread as it should be, when approximately half of the executives I've worked with bring it up, you know that progress has definitely been made.

Our original question was, "Should your CIO care about meta data management?" As we see, meta data management is a key enabler for the majority of the top innovative technologies facing CIOs. Clearly the answer is a resounding yes.


  1. CIO Magazine, April 1, 2005 (respondents checked all that applied).
  2. CIO Magazine, April 1, 2005 (respondents checked all that applied).

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