R. Todd Stephens has been contributing online columns to DMReview.com for years. Beginning this month, he brings his award-winning enterprise metadata endeavors at BellSouth, his wit and his sharp mind to the pages of DM Review. We welcome him. In 2002, my organization took home the High Accommodation award from Wilshire Conferences, and the following year, we were awarded the "Outstanding Enterprise Metadata Award." By anyone's standards, we had created a competitive advantage that very few organizations could match. Within two years, our implementation looked like child's play when compared to the metadata success of Intel, Allstate Insurance, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and many others. Our competitive advantage was gone; a new, improved strategy was needed.

Would it be possible to expand the utilization of metadata beyond traditional database or data warehouse metadata? This seemed like an excellent idea because the collection of technical assets was endless. The biggest question was where to start: systems, interfaces, reusable components or Web services-type metadata. We used the term "enterprise metadata" based on this idea of expansion and moved forward. Once again, our advantage was short-lived while others followed our efforts and standards such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) emerged. So we took our metadata principles and frameworks and moved into online ordering, where the metadata could describe the products and services that any employee would be interested in ordering such as personal computers, printers, PDAs, software and servers. The success of the online ordering environment and the impact to the architecture community cannot be understated.

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