The 8th annual Wilshire Meta-Data Conference was held in conjunction with the 16th annual DAMA International Symposium May 2-6, 2004, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Billed as the world's largest vendor-neutral data management conference, hundreds of data administrators, data/system architects, data/enterprise modelers and analysts gathered to discuss current issues and attend classes, workshops, special interest group meetings and keynote speeches all directed toward managing data in its various forms.
C.J. Date, an independent author, lecturer, researcher and consultant, specializing in relational database technology who is best known for his book An Introduction to Database Systems (seventh edition published in 2000), was one of the keynote speakers. He stated, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it," and gave the background of relational database theory while discussing interesting quotes he's accumulated over the years. He defended the relational database stating that it was solidly established in set theory and predicate logic.
All day tutorials were offered and 11 speakers presented sessions on a wide variety of topics. Sid Adelman, a consultant specializing in data warehouse and strategic data architecture who co-authored a methodology and project planning tool tailored specifically for data warehouse and actively publishes on data warehouse topics, opened his class by saying, "We all agree that data is a critical asset, but what have you been doing about it?" His course, "How to Develop an Enterprise Strategy" focused on actionable knowledge for the attendees. He discussed the importance of data quality, categorizing your data and stressed the components of a successful data strategy.
Adelman recommended that each person could take immediate steps to improve their data as a critical asset by creating a glossary of both business and technical terms to distribute throughout the organization to get communication started and to help form a single view of the enterprise. His other suggestion was to begin to profile your data. This allows the data administrator to submit a report of the state of the data to the business movers which helps improve the quality of the data and assigns ownership responsibilities.
Another class was taught by John Ladley, a well-known information management practitioner and a popular speaker on knowledge management. His session, "Using Information Management to Sustain a Data Warehouse" discussed reinitiating a data warehouse project. He emphasized the importance of high quality data, "All systems have data quality issues. They must be addressed in context: one person's data is another's nightmare."
He suggested a risk management approach to data quality and recommended that a survey on the multiple layers of quality issues was a great action step. Pointed questions can address and determine the usefulness and effectiveness of quality. He stated, "It is important to evaluate the range of value and the levels of ambiguity that will be tolerated."
David Marco, president of Enterprise Warehousing Solutions, presented, "Building the Managed Meta Data Environment." He talked about the necessity of effective meta data management and designed a framework for creating a managed meta data environment and went into great detail about the components including information about data stewardship and detailed meta data modeling. One of his recommendations was, "Make sure your meta data repository is implemented on an open relational database platform. Proprietary platforms can be a risk, you need to have options above and beyond a tool."
Besides independent consultants and industry experts, many business practitioners were course leaders and brought their perspective to the conference. R. Todd Stephens is the director of the Meta Data Services Group for the BellSouth Corporation who implemented a huge, successful meta data project. He shared his experience creating an enterprise architecture in "Enterprise Meta Data: The Art and Science of Best Practices" and gave the attendees a checklist of questions to ask vendors during the project procurement phase. Tom Yanken, manager of corporate repository/architecture for UPS distinquished business rules from data and process in his "What is Why? What is How? And What is What?" presentation.
Trip reports will be available on all of the presentations from the conference within a week at www.wilshireconferences.com.
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