I recently worked on an executive report on data modeling issues for customer relationship management (CRM) systems. One of the main issues I discussed in that report was that data models designed for operational systems that have been in production for a number of years were probably not suited for the kinds of analytical processing associated with CRM systems today. For example, I looked at a table layout from an insurance application that had been in use for approximately eight years. That table, which was meant to manage locations, had an interesting set of attributes: the traditional "addr_line_1," "addr_line_2," city, state, and ZIP code, along with telephone number (all in a single field), fax number area code, fax number exchange, fax number line (that is, the fax number was broken into three parts), as well as "contact_name" and "attention" fields.

My objections to this table layout were numerous and included:

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