Last month, I introduced you to the concept of a data integration framework (DIF) – a combination of processes, standards, people and tools that ultimately helps establish information as a corporate asset. Using a DIF as a blueprint, you can transform data into consistent, quality, timely information for your businesspeople to use in measuring, monitoring and managing the enterprise.

The importance of using a DIF comes into play in various situations, but it is especially important when an organization is first developing or revitalizing its BI approach or finds itself with competing projects. Many healthcare customers, for example, are just beginning to realize the need for a coordinated BI strategy –­ not just for financial information, but to reap the rewards of volumes of clinical data. Retailers find that using a DIF when they are revitalizing their BI approach gives them a clearer picture of the critical points and provides better value to their users. It's a way to see through vendor hype to what is truly going to help the business. Organizations such as financial institutions that have blossomed during the boom years have found that competing data stovepipes in different subsidiaries have blossomed as well. A DIF gives them a better overall view of their customers and helps consolidate critical data where it can help them, not slow them down.

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