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Do you feel that knowledge made available through the use of data warehouses should be disseminated to all employees in the organization?

  • Anne Marie Smith, Joe Oates, Sid Adelman, Clay Rehm, Tom Haughey
  • May 11 2006, 1:00am EDT

Q: Do you feel that knowledge made available through the use of data warehouses should be disseminated to all employees in the organization?

Sid Adelman's Answer:

It entirely depends on the nature of the information. If the application has financial data and you are a publicly traded company, the financial data has information that would allow an unscrupulous employee to trade on insider information - not a good idea, so don't tempt your unscrupulous employees. If the application is HR and it contains employee evaluations or employee salaries, this should not be disseminated. If you are a health care organization, government regulations make it very clear that certain patient information cannot be shared.

Joe Oates' Answer:

I feel that knowledge should be made available to employees in an organization based on what is appropriate for each of them to see, as long as it helps each employee be more productive and effective. For example, there is information that is only appropriate for management to see. There is also information that is inappropriate for individual employees to see. For example, it may be appropriate for an employee to see his or her own payroll information, but it is inappropriate to see another employee's payroll information.

I do believe in "BI for the masses," but the effort should be made to determine what appropriate information each person or job title should see with the aim of making each employee more effective. Deciding what is appropriate for each person or job title to see is an issue for which it is difficult to gain widespread management or employee consensus.

Clay Rehm's Answer:

No. Where I feel each employee should be communicated to with as much information as possible, there is some data that is not needed by some employees, and they would spend their time analyzing and contemplating the data it when it was not necessary or a productive use of their time.

Anne Marie Smith's Answer:

Data becomes information when it is put into context, information becomes knowledge when it is used for decision-making/actions/etc. Therfore, information is not universally valuable, it is valuable in a context. Good data ethics and governance practices state that data and information should be made available to those who need it, but not disseminated to all. One of the "contexts" that turns data into information is the human context, the set of people who need the data for making valid decisions/valid actions. It is proper to restrict data in the data warehouse (and in all data sources) to those roles and individuals who have a valid need for it.

Tom Haughey's Answer:

The data in the data warehouse should be safeguarded like any other data: it should be made available on a need-to-know basis. For some data, this may mean it is open to everyone. In some cases, it should be restricted; in other cases, it should be an open book. Just because the data is in the data warehouse does not mean that everyone in the organization should have access to it. Traditional DBMS and OS security means need to be employed to ensure proper access rights, together with possibly some special data warehouse rights or entitlements tables to ensure that the right people have access to the data. Some data may be open not only to employees but even to outsiders like customers and vendors; other data must be treated sensitively. For example, you may have data on product sales patterns by region by product type by customer type. This data might be made available to customers and other vendors. On the other hand, say you are a consumer products company and want to manage disability payments. To help with this, you keep sales data and disability data in the warehouse. You figure that if salespeople work long hours (which is evident in their sales) they are likely to have a disability incident. So you will keep track of sales, including commission or other revenue data. This revenue data could include salesperson income data. Not everyone should have access to this data.

So, in summary, with all data, only those who have a need to know should have the right to know.

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