George Marinos wishes to thank Douglas Roach for his contributions to this article. Roach is a manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Data Management Group focused primarily on helping enterprises manage the complexity of real-time data environments.

Before the meeting started, the data management team looked a bit uncomfortable. It wasn't every day that they were asked to sit down with senior business-unit executives - in this case, the COOs of the organization's top three performing divisions.

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