6 years, 10 months ago

The Untold Benefits of an Enterprise Data Model (Reference Architecture)

Last week I talked about how to get the business to care about Enterprise Architecture. This week I would like to discuss the untold benefits of an Enterprise Data Model as a Reference Architecture for the Connected Enterprise.

What is an Enterprise Data Model?

An Enterprise Data Model provides a blueprint for organizations to bring large amounts of disparate data together to enable sound, and informed business decisions.

Think of it in the same way a house is built. A builder needs a blueprint in order to know how to build the house and to know what it is supposed to look like once it is finished. This plan is likely to change while the construction takes place. For instance, a married couple may be building a house and the wife may become pregnant during the building. So she may want to add an extra closet or change the office into a baby’s room.

An enterprise data model is also a plan of what an organization will look like in the future if the data model is implemented. Keep in mind the model will require small changes here and there along the way as the business matures during implementation.

Bringing data together to make decisions faster 

Businesses today are faced with having to make decisions faster because the market is dynamic and constantly changing. To thrive in this competitive landscape, organizations need to understand where their data is, what are the authoritative sources for it, and how they can put it all together to understand their business better to make the right decisions at the right time.

What is driving this change?

  • New technologies constantly introduced
  • Increased market competition
  • Revenue and cost pressures
  • Regulatory requirements

Organizations collect a wealth of information that can only tell part of a story. For example, operations may have valuable metrics about incidents, changes, events, and problems rolled up by application. Finance may have all of the costs related to hardware, software, contracts, and people. The program management office (PMO) may have information regarding projects, resources and demand. This data needs to be brought together to understand how much applications cost, their level of support, their risk, and what capabilities they provide to the business. All of these scenarios may become impossible tasks or extremely labor intensive with a data model. Creating an enterprise data model to use as a blueprint for bringing all of the disparate data together paves the way for people to answer these questions on demand.

The enterprise data model further depicts what the authoritative data sources are and in what systems. It also describes where different systems need to be integrated. Once all of the systems are integrated and authoritative sources are defined, the business can make decisions accurately and quickly.

The following decisions below are dependent on having an accurate and integrated set of data. Without it, these decisions are just made on guesswork.

  • The decision is to reduce licensed software based on known usage by role and department.
  • Procurement decisions based on vendor quality history.
  • Applications that can be consolidated or retired by line of business.
  • A headcount reduction decision based on resource allocation data by the leadership.

Automation is another area that can benefit greatly from an enterprise data model. Routine server and network tasks can be automated to reduce data center support staff by 50% – 80%, but only with integrated monitoring, incident, change, configuration and asset data.

Can you imagine asking a builder to build a house by just explaining generally what you want it to look like? First of all, he would just laugh and walk away because a builder needs to have a plan that meets city codes, neighborhood restrictions, etc. They also need to understand how many people it will take, what skills are required, and the time it will take to build it. It would be just as silly to expect to transform an organization without a blueprint and plan for how to get there.

Have an Enterprise Data Model, now What?

Having a data model is a great first step for a successful business transformation, but it is important to remember that a data model is just a model until you implement it. The tricky part is communicating this effectively to the executives and senior management because they will likely expect results from it. The results are not actually realized from having a data model though.

The benefits come from having good data and integrating all of the disparate data sources together to bring this data together enabling better decision making.

How could an Enterprise Data Model help you and your organization. Join in the conversation and post your thoughts.

See you next week, same time, same place.

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