The balance sheet of almost any Forbes Global 2000 company would show entries for assets such as property, cash, equipment and accounts receivable. Unfortunately, one item that is not seen in the asset section of the balance sheet is data. Data is every bit as valuable as property, equipment and accounts receivable. Low-quality data, poorly understood data, mismanaged data, redundant applications and poorly built applications prevent companies from effectively managing their other assets. How can a company convert accounts receivable into cash when the accounts receivable system has transaction records with data quality issues that prevent them from ever becoming billable? Moreover, all of the needlessly redundant applications create a substantial cost drain on the enterprise's cash assets.

This is an especially important concept because all companies are desperately trying to increase shareholder value. Corporate executives spend numerous hours looking for ways to increase the value of their companies because 95 percent of these executives' compensations are directly linked to shareholder value. They realize that shareholder value is tied not just to the assets on the balance sheet but also to nonphysical factors (e.g., intellectual capital, customer loyalty, brand recognition, etc.). Moreover, CEOs and CIOs are using successful technology implementations as trophies to improve shareholder value by enhancing the company's reputation as an innovator and by attracting better employee talent.

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