Dear Readers,

The need for an effective data management strategy is becoming critical to all organizations, and this was very apparent at the recent DAMA International Symposium in Washington, D.C. The symposium exceeded all expectations for attendance and covered several major areas: implementing a data warehouse and Corporate Information Factory, the meta data imperative, CRM, logical and physical data modeling, information quality, applying business rules in 2000 and applying intelligent data delivery to the Web using XML.

At the Symposium, I moderated a panel that focused on how an IT staff can best support the CIO. It was very informative and included Ron Shelby, general director of e-commerce systems for e-GM; Bill Sheley, CTO of Bank One's Retail Group; Marwan Rifka, Client Delivery Executive for EDS' e- solutions business; and Al Walea, Executive Director of Data Development for USAA. Some of the major topics included the necessity of IT to help identify and create new business opportunities, the extension of current business models to the Web and improvement in the quality of customer service as critical to business survival. Additional imperatives made by the group were that data management professionals should be driven by business requirements, not software packages; portray problems, solutions, issues and opportunities in business terms, not technical terms; provide cost/benefit analysis and end-user impacts for all projects; remember that technology is a tool to support the business ­ it is not the end result; and make it easy for the CIO to sell technical ideas to the business owners by not using technical acronyms.

The panelists also agreed that business analysts involved in day-to-day activities of rapidly restructuring markets must be able to reset the sequence of process flows without requiring programming intervention by IT. We were also reminded to think of the end user first. Finally, the panel suggested that we put ourselves in the customer's shoes ­ will a decision or action make it harder for them? If it does, rethink the solution.

The sessions and participants confirmed that in this era of e-everything, how you acquire, structure, access and utilize your data will be a key factor in your ability to be competitive and increase profits.

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