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As a youngster, I never liked change. I didn't like birthday parties. And I didn't like having to get new clothes each September before school started. I liked the clothes I had. My mother, however, thought differently. I got new clothes whether I wanted them or not. I got a haircut whether I wanted it or not.

Today's businesses face the same types of dictates. Well, okay, my mother isn't making everyone get haircuts. Or new outfits.

But the market is dictating that businesses be able to respond in a much more integrated fashion. Not only integrated, but a much faster fashion as well. Today's organizations need to be much more efficient in using information effectively, managing information efficiently, and turning that information into insight so that business decision makers can make the right decisions.

Let's take a closer look at what it takes to compete today - at least in regard to the management and use of information and corporate data.

At the highest level, business users need the right information at the right time in the right context. All-in-all, that's easier said than done. If nothing in the world changed, it would actually be relatively easy. However, since organizations (and the rest of us) are dealing with a faster rate of change than ever before, making sure you have the right data at the right time in the right context requires more work than ever before. It requires significantly more agility-in an IT infrastructure, in the data management perspective, and in the ability to manage rapid and evolving changes in both requirements and infrastructure. Information agility will be one of the biggest keys to today's (and tomorrow's) successful businesses.

But it's not the only key. Organizations also need to be able simplify access to information and hide its complexity. Regardless of where that information is coming from, it's important to be able to make information available as quickly and accurately as possible.

Which brings up another point-timeliness. Data warehouses and data marts definitely have their place in business. But there's an ever-growing need for delivering data, especially from multiple, disjointed sources, in real-time.

Of course, delivering information quickly is good, but it's only good if the data is accurate. As systems and databases have proliferated, and as organizations have found themselves replicating, duplicating and transforming data, it has become harder and harder for many users to identify "the single source of the truth." This is critically important, because business users need to know that the data they're using and consuming is accurate and there's a single source for the information that's being used across an organization to make both tactical and strategic business decisions.


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