Delivering trusted information across an organisation


In order for organisations to optimise their business, they need information. This is not a problem for many organisations, as generally they actually experience an overload of information.

However, there are several challenges when it comes to trying to leverage all of this information. Firstly, information typically remains locked in various silos across the organisation. Secondly, the sheer volume of information and the variety of different information types businesses have to deal with is continuously growing at an exponential rate. Thirdly, the velocity and speed of doing business in today’s market is driving the need for real-time access and use of information.

These challenges mean that information is not trusted within organisations, and that many managers miss vital information that should be available to help them make critical business decisions. It can also lead to the wrong information being used when making decisions, which can be detrimental to
the health of the business.

Using bad data as a strategic asset is simply not an option. The bottom line is that having access to trusted information enables innovation and smarter decision making. If an organisation’s IT department can deliver accurate and complete information in context for a business user, then the user will be
able to make the right analysis to draw out true business insights.

An Information Agenda helps to address these challenges and deliver trusted information throughout the enterprise; by helping organisations discover what data is spread across the enterprise and how it is related, design trusted information structures to leverage data for business optimisation, and govern information over its lifecycle with a repeatable process.

Using tools such as Business Intelligence applications, data warehouses, master data management, application consolidation, new application rollout, and information architecture can provide a range of benefits for organisations.

These include increasing operational efficiency, eliminating and streamlining duplicate processes, promoting team collaboration, decreasing time to market, and becoming more responsive to customer demand.

These tools help profile, model, define, map and govern information that is spread across an enterprise; so businesses can deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.

Another important requirement is the need to integrate information from across heterogeneous systems, including understanding source data, applying data quality, complex transformation, and a variety of ways to deliver information.

This involves including a metadata-driven design which helps to align business goals and IT activities, providing a consistent understanding of what things mean, capturing business specifications and using them to automate development tasks, and providing deeper insight into data by tracking its lineage.

However, for organisations building a data warehouse, integration is not the only requirement. It is also necessary to have a solid foundation for housing and managing the information over time; with tools such as advanced partitioning, data mining, retention, and performance and workload management features. These ensure fast, constantly optimised access to information, while reducing storage requirements.

As organisations begin to focus more and more on their information, it is becoming evident that various types of data, such as customer, supplier, product, location, and account information, are found across nearly all systems. Managing this information in a coordinated fashion becomes extremely challenging. Master Data Management, or MDM, helps to address this problem by managing information and ensuring it is synchronised across all systems at all times.

Together, these various tools and methodologies help organisations build trusted information, by ensuring good design and governance capability, information integration, data management and accessible storage.

By enabling a trusted view of information that is available to the right people when it is needed in a contextual format, enterprises will be able to start leveraging information for smarter business outcomes and harness the power of this information to drive better decision making and competitive
advantage.

David McWilliam
IBM