DM Review welcomes Stephen Gallagher as a new columnist. He has more than 20 years of industry experience and will share his expertise on corporate business intelligence strategy for data management.


Data is the lifeblood of an organization when it is timely, accurate, complete and secure because it supports better decision-making. Yet for many organizations, these core data management and architecture components have yet to be fully harnessed.


If data provides the foundation for critical and everyday business decisions, it is essential that decision-makers can access and depend on quality data to operate confidently in a high-performance business. Data quality is the first of four building blocks essential to achieving effective enterprise data management (EDM). The costs of compromised data quality are clear - billions of dollars squandered each year due to mistakes, manual processes and lost business.


The CIOs Accenture surveyed earlier this year (see DM Review’s September issue) seem all too aware of their shortcomings with respect to their data quality capabilities today: 29 percent of organizations surveyed said that they have minimal or limited data quality efforts in place, even for critical systems.1


This bleak but honest assessment continued when we asked respondents about managing enterprise data. Just 15 percent of respondents believe that data quality is currently comprehensively (or near comprehensively) managed. But organizations expressed a keen desire to achieve a comprehensive data quality program; an impressive 78 percent of organizations want to address data quality as a fundamental part of effectively managing their enterprise data within the next three years.


Although 55 percent of all organizations have a data quality program in place, at least for specific systems with sensitive data, the stark truth is that there is a yawning gap between their aspiration and actions. Indeed, not a single North America-based organization reported that they have a fully comprehensive data quality program today.


Performance gaps continued as our survey explored the area of master data management (MDM). It is clear that the management and sharing of master data across the enterprise is fundamental to the success of today’s wide-ranging businesses. We see this as the second building block essential to achieving effective EDM.


Yet 34 percent of our survey respondents report that they do not manage master data much beyond individual systems. Despite this, 27 percent of organizations said that they do have some form of enterprise-wide MDM program. Such organizations are taking important steps toward becoming high-performance businesses.


The focus for the future of our surveyed organizations tells a different story. Seventy-five percent of organizations want to have a comprehensive, enterprise-wide MDM program and, in an even greater vote of confidence, 98 percent of organizations expressed the need to have, at a minimum, an organized MDM and sharing program in place for key data. Almost all CIOs (98 percent) intend to have an organized MDM and sharing program in place in three years’ time at the very least.


Data governance is the third building block necessary to achieve effective EDM. Along with data quality and MDM, this essential component requires a long-term commitment of skilled resources that many organizations perhaps have not considered or are unwilling to undertake. Whatever the reason, performance gaps exist; 36 percent of our survey respondents stated they have no significant data governance program in place and another 45 percent have only pockets of data governance for the most critical data. Today, 19 percent of organizations said that they have a significant enterprise-wide data governance program in place - strong proponents, then, for effective data management - a significant difference from the 72 percent of organizations that hope to achieve this in three years’ time. A mere eight percent of organizations consider data governance to be unimportant.


When we asked respondents about metadata management, only 10 percent of organizations said they have a strong program in place. Indeed, more than half of respondents, 52 percent, are not running any significant programs around metadata management. This may be an area for concern because I believe metadata management should be considered the fourth building block - complementing data quality, MDM and data governance - to achieve effective EDM and to put in place a successful information management strategy. The effective management of metadata ensures both that organizations have a consistent definition of their key data and that it is used consistently throughout the enterprise. Of course, metadata management does require a considerable commitment, but it can be highly effective when linked with data governance capabilities.


It is apparent from both experience and research that data quality, the linchpin to innovation and progress across the entire information lifecycle, has to be the starting point and is a clear differentiator for organizations hoping to achieve high performance.




  1. Accenture. “2007 Information Management Survey.”

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