Typical assets listed on a corporate balance sheet may include cash, stock, equipment and property. These "hard" assets are certainly valuable. An organization can't function without them; and, accordingly, they are closely ­ and usually expertly ­ managed. However, there is one asset that is often overlooked and, as a result, sometimes not managed as well as it could be. That asset is the corporate mass of data. This data ­ which might run the gamut from information on customers to sales to inventory to past performance statistics ­ is absolutely one of the most, if not the most, valuable assets any organization will ever have. Data defines the organization; it makes the organization unique and viable. If an organization does not closely guard and effectively manage its corporate data, it may survive; but it will most probably not thrive.

To control corporate data effectively, many organizations today are establishing formal teams to manage data. These data resource management organizations (DRMOs) are quickly becoming ways for companies to leverage their data to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. How? Organizing their resources more efficiently enables companies to shift their focus and energy to better serving the customer, which leads to improved efficiency and increased sales ­ a good formula for increased profits.

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