Corporate Information Factory

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Words of Wisdom

Sketch of Bill Inmon - The Father of Data Warehousing

In a short decade, data warehousing has expanded into a framework that is called the Corporate Information Factory (or "CIF"). From the humble origins of recognizing the data warehouse as a separate structure from operational, transaction systems in the early 90's, data warehouse has evolved to the larger framework of the CIF.

The CIF encompasses many different important components: ERP, eCommerce, customer relationship management (CRM), and so forth.

In addition, the CIF has grown to include other architectural components such as data marts, exploration warehouses, ODS, near line and secondary storage, and project warehouses.

It is a temptation to become fixated on whatever aspect of the CIF that you are currently working on. Developers become so enraptured with their part of the CIF that they do not recognize the need or validity of the other components. People focused on ERP do not see the need for or the value of secondary storage. People engrossed in eCommerce do not understand why exploration warehouses are a necessity. It is not obvious to people building CRM applications why you need a data warehouse or a data mart.

But time, competition, volumes of data, and restricted budgets all make a believer of even the most cynical developer. As these important but immature disciplines - ERP, CRM, eCommerce - start to mature, the reality of:

  • the need to make these systems actually work
  • the need to get business value out of them
  • the need to handle industrial strength volumes of data processing becomes manifest

At that point in time, the usefulness and the practicality of the CIF becomes apparent. Indeed, in the face of maturity, the CIF framework becomes inevitable.