The good news is that more organizations are undertaking initiatives to address enterprise meta data. The downside, however, is that it still remains relatively uncommon overall. In fact, enterprise meta data - that is, all major reference and transactional data sets within an organization - is plagued with the perception that it is a technical luxury. Both information consumers and IT professionals view it more as an embellishment to their organization's information systems architecture than a critical element. Additionally, while most IT professionals believe that there is value in enterprise meta data, they struggle to articulate or convince their business clients of it. Information consumers, even if they understand the concepts of meta data, often consider it an IT amenity - not a business necessity. This narrow perspective of enterprise meta data hinders the ability of individuals to quantify or directly demonstrate the value of meta data, which, in turn, limits the adoption of enterprise meta data standards and integrated practical applications of it.

Calculating ROI can be challenging without broad assumptions, but practical applications of enterprise meta data can create business value. Focusing on the business capabilities instead of the technical aspects of enterprise meta data makes it easier to articulate the benefits to a business audience. In this column, three practical applications of enterprise meta data are explored to demonstrate value through the ability to provide information consumers with access to timely, relevant and accurate data.

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