Many business intelligence (BI) users today are making incorrect and flawed decisions based on the information they retrieve from their corporate data warehouse. They run queries and reports against the data warehouse, thinking they understand the content of the information they retrieve. They will either rely solely on their own interpretation of the field descriptions on input pages plus column and row headers in reports to understand the information, or they may consult with a fellow colleague who is also misinterpreting the data. In some cases, there is a pool of "tribal knowledge" about reports and information that is passed from one employee to another, leading to further misinformation. They do not know the true, full context of the information they are about to use to make important tactical and strategic decisions for their firm.

The cause of this unfortunate scenario is the lack of use of meta data and a meta data repository in the data warehouse environment. Many data warehouses exist today without the adequate means to capture, maintain and deliver meta data to users who rely on accurate and concise information from the environment. This situation has been further proliferated by the growing use of packaged applications in corporations. These packaged applications do not have common means of providing meta data about their data stores. In many cases, corporate management questions the value and cost associated with developing/purchasing and maintaining a meta data store for use with the data warehouse –­ especially in times of negative or flat information technology (IT) budgets.

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