In the course of my day job as director of research in data warehousing at Giga Information Group, I answer a lot of client inquiries. I recently received a question from a customer who wanted to know how to model the value of her firm's data as part of an insurance policy covering data warehousing disaster recovery. What is the quantitative measure, in dollars, for which the policy is to be written?

Perhaps the value of the data is determined by the cost of capturing, managing and consuming it. Thus, the data inherits features of the hardware, software, user interfaces, software development capabilities or business processes that surround and define it and which the data, in turn, enables. In an oversimplification, add the costs of the computing plant and utility function and divide this sum by the weighed number of data components. That is the proposed value of each component. Call this the "cost model." This approach has limitations, though it may be useful for disaster recovery purposes.

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