The Enterprise Information Base: A Foundation for the Real-Time Enterprise


Executive Summary

In spite of the claims of
hardware and software vendors, the real-time enterprise is not here. The reality today is
that the real-time enterprise is complex, costly, and prone to failure. It is unattainable
for most businesses because it requires a series of carefully executed steps that take a
considerable time to implement and demands a major financial commitment. All enterprise
systems need to be connected. All data needs to be accessible and updatable from any
point. And as enterprises strive to meet the currently prescribed integration requirements
of the real-time enterprise, another problem is exposed. Current data integration
technologies, which focus on data movement, do not ensure data consistency across the
organization. In fact, they frustrate data consistency, since they offer no measures to
ensure the reliability of the data that is moved. And so, any inconsistencies in
enterprise data are exacerbated. Enterprise integration vendors offer solutions that
connect applications. But they do not directly address the requirement for reliable and
consistent enterprise-wide data.

This paper discusses the missing link in
current enterprise data integrators’ offerings: solutions that ensure
cross-enterprise data consistency and reliability. We present a case for a re-evaluation
of the traditional definition of data integration, which provides an infrastructure to
maintain data consistency. We propose the addition of a data integration layer, which
features an “Enterprise Information Base.” Such a base consolidates enterprise
data resources and enables users to extract a single, consistent “version of the
truth” from disparate systems. Such ‘truth’ delivers on one of the
objectives of the real-time, integrated enterprise: it transforms the database into
a living Information Base.

Data must be the foundation of integration efforts because
integrated applications are of little value (and can even be detrimental) if the data that
is circulated is unreliable or inconsistent. In fact, e-Business integration projects run
the risk of failure if data is inconsistent. For example, what value does a CRM system
bring to a company that is delivering a marketing campaign if the company possesses six
conflicting records on one customer? And yet, data consistency and reliability is not an
issue that emerged with e-Business. E-Business has merely compounded a problem that almost
every large enterprise has struggled with for years.

In this paper, we focus the following:

  • The different types of data that exist in enterprises
    (transactional, descriptive, and control data) and the complexity that they bring.

  • The factors that contribute to the complexity of descriptive data.

  • Why data users should define integration requirements.

  • The main requirements for building a consistent, reliable
    base of descriptive data.

We conclude our paper with a real-world example, which
shows that building an Enterprise Information Base is not merely an ideal, but a tenable
reality for organizations. So while the real-time enterprise is still years away for most
organizations, a consistent, reliable data is not.

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