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Small Businesses Need Education in Value of Data Management

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Regardless of size, every organization needs and can benefit from an enterprise data / information management program, with the essential components of data governance, data quality, master data management, metadata management, etc.

Less than one-quarter (25%) of small-medium businesses have heard about enterprise information management (EIM) and its components.  Among those who have heard the term “enterprise information management”, over two-thirds said that they did not know what it meant, according to a recent survey that was conducted by a leading publication.  Note that small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) are businesses that maintain revenues, assets or a number of employees below a certain threshold.

Even among the small-medium businesses that use relational database-oriented software not all of them have heard of data architecture and metadata management, and most do not know what these terms connote.  Many of the respondents believe that data architecture refers to the database management system (DBMS), and many think that having a website is the way they “manage” their data.

When asked about other EIM components, most respondents (almost 75%) could not define what data governance was or why it was an essential aspect of data management for any organization in the 21st century.  Most small business leaders did not see why IT would not be the “owners” of the organization’s data.

Though small in size, small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the economy in every industry and sector.  They outnumber large firms considerably, employ vast numbers of people taken together, and are generally entrepreneurial in nature, helping to shape innovation in all aspects of business operations.

It is imperative that enterprise information management (EIM) consultancies and vendor-agnostic organizations articulate the objectives and benefits of enterprise information management to smaller businesses.  Often, small-medium businesses do not have in-house IT departments and have varied understanding of the interaction needed between IT and the business for successful management of their data and information.  Overall, product vendors and major consultancies focus on large enterprises and do not consider smaller businesses to be a source of new and sustainable revenue.  This oversight is damaging to the success of the smaller organizations and to the ability of the EIM/EDM functions to support every enterprise.

Understanding the enterprise data / information management function is made more difficult by the variety of names that the discipline has across organizations: information management, data management, enterprise data management, information resource management, and enterprise information management.

Also, the components of enterprise information management are not fully agreed upon, although most experts include the following as pieces of the EIM puzzle: metadata management, data governance and data stewardship, data and information quality, data architecture and modeling, data warehousing and business intelligence, master and reference data management, records and unstructured data management, and data security.

As small and medium enterprises explore analytics and other processes and technologies that rely on accurate and quickly available data, they will realize the need for functions such as data governance, metadata management, and data quality management, etc.  They will come to understand the need for enterprise data / information management as an integral part of their operations.


It is imperative that all organizations of any size and any industry / field learn about enterprise information management, how it can contribute to the organization’s success, and how EIM experts can help ensure the effective management of any organization’s information assets.


Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D.

Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of enterprise data management, data governance, data strategy, enterprise data architecture and data warehousing. Dr. Smith is a consultant and educator with over 30 years' experience. Author of numerous articles and Fellow of the Insurance Data Management Association (FIDM), and a Fellow of the Institute for Information Management (IIM), Dr. Smith is also a well-known speaker in her areas of expertise at conferences and symposia.

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