When I first started in this business, mainframe computers were all that existed, and they were the size of SUVs. Storage space was outrageously expensive, and programmers used dubious shortcuts (which bit us in the form of the Y2K bug) to save precious space. Computers were grinding, number-crunching behemoths that were almost more trouble than they were worth. By the mid-1980s, we had come a long way, but we still had information systems problems. We had incredible volumes of data about our operations, but we couldn't wring much information out of it. As one of my treasured former clients once said to me, "Jane, we're drowning in data, but dying for information."1 How right he was.

There were a number of business problems that drove the development of data warehousing as the preeminent business information-systems technology of the last 15 years. However, the problem of inadequate access to information in the face of mountains of data was the main driver. It wasn't that most organizations didn't have sufficient numbers of information systems; the problem was that the systems didn't talk to each other. Executive management couldn't view the entire enterprise.

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