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Making the most of your enterprise data warehouse

Get expert insight on broadening the responsibilities of a data administration team to provide full corporate data management capabilities, including questions to ask internally.

Jill: I just read Chapter 6 of your new book on data governance and I've copied it for my entire staff to read. We're currently a data administration team that focuses pretty exclusively on our company's enterprise data warehouse. I think we could be doing bigger things. Could we migrate to be a corporate data management team?
Copied it! I won't tell Wiley if you won't tell Wiley.

Thanks for the compliment. Chapter 6 is called, "Who Owns the Data Anyway?" and echoes a question we routinely...

get from our clients, most of whom struggle with domain, control and policy-making around enterprise data.

Don't you hate it when people answer a question with a question? But here are a couple questions for you consider while I think about the answer to yours:

  1. You've said that you're already doing data management, which implies that you have rigor and skills dedicated to the definition, maintenance and deployment of unified data. But how much authority are you given? If you establish a definition for, say, the term "revenue," do the various lines of business agree that this means "booked" revenue and not "billed" revenue? Is this the seminal conversation in deploying revenue data corporate-wide?
  2. What's your relationship with the business? Again, this goes back to the authority issue, but also to the "softer" side of relationship building between IT and the business users. Part of this is that your team knows who the subject matter experts are for various business processes, and can collaborate with them. Part of it is that management acknowledges and respects your role as stewards of corporate data. It comes down to the institutional acknowledgement of accountability and hand-off points. Are you there yet?
  3. How foreign is the concept of "managing data as an asset?" Even I admit that, as an aphorism, it's getting a bit tired. But, as an enterprise philosophy, it's an important one. Management needs to do more than pay lip service to the idea of data as an asset. They need to agree that data has quantifiable value -- even if they never quantify it. They need to understand that the opportunity cost of not having data can be huge -- even if they never measure it. And they need to acknowledge -- and here's the really hard one -- that data has its own lifecycle, enabling tools, and specialized skills and resources, and be ready to invest in them.

The last issue, and the one I'll use to really answer your question is this: Have you already proven value in your own little corner of data warehousing? If the answer is "yes" -- we've eliminated duplicate work efforts, provided accurate data for advanced analytics, shielded our end-users from "marketectures" and preferred vendors and focused on business problems, enabled more accurate models that have resulted in tangible revenue uplift -- then go for it! Cast your net toward supporting an operational application or investing in a CDI hub, and apply the rigorous data management practices you've succeeded with so far, while adding some other, more functionally-oriented ones to support the operational side.

Best of luck in broadening your brand!

This was last published in August 2006

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