Which application did most companies build first – the data warehouse or the meta data repository? The obvious answer is the data warehouse. Most Global 2000 companies have a data warehouse (typically several). Conversely, many companies still do not have a meta data repository. A much more interesting question is, "If a company only has time/money/resources to build one of these applications, which should it build first?" Before we address this question, I want to make sure that it is clearly understood that both a meta data repository and a data warehouse are critical applications that almost every company needs to have. Companies that neglect these applications or do not build them properly will be replaced by their competitors that do.

Over the years, I have given more than a hundred keynotes/seminars on data warehousing and meta data. During these talks, I've been asked many times which should be built first. After giving it careful thought, I have come to the conclusion that a corporation's optimal approach is to first build its meta data repository. Let's examine the reasons behind this conclusion.

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