I'll be the first to say that building an extended intelligent enterprise (XIE) IT infrastructure with a zero-latency, real-time performance operational data store at it's heart is probably the best long-term use of today's tight IT dollars. However, just as the hardware and business intelligence (BI) applications must be suited to the task, so must data management and exchange capabilities. How well organizations manage their internal data ­ specifically their meta data ­ and the technology that underpins data exchanges with trading partners will play a large part in determining the success or failure of any XIE project.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to define and maintain meta data. It is the foundation of organizational data because it describes what that data is. However, meta data management is still one of the thorniest issues in most organizations. As Stamford-based Gartner indicates, "Since the dawn of information technology, the problem of understanding meta data ­ what data and processes exist within the organization ­ and sharing this information across people and tools has been a problem. There are many facets to this issue, some technical and others cultural."1 They're right.

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