The massive growth in raw data volume through recent decades has created a new problem for the chief information officer (CIO): how to know whether the electronic content is stored in such a way that it is available and compelling for every stakeholder and potential user. Given the importance of the information asset, it is hard to believe that business executives have no way of determining whether it is being stored in a way that is readily accessible.
Information technology experts know that the accepted technique for storing structured data is in a relational database management system (RDBMS) using normalized relational modeling techniques, while unstructured content should be indexed using an enterprise taxonomy (a filing system or catalog). Business stakeholders, on the other hand, know that they need to have access to information but seldom have any understanding of the techniques used by the technologists or how they can strategically evaluate the quality of the data held by the enterprise.
As the wider economy has become focused on the generation and consumption of information, much of the economic value of any company or enterprise is tied up in its data. To have a critical business asset encoded in ways that are beyond the comprehension of the key executives of the business is an unacceptable risk and one that the Small Worlds measures, introduced in the following sections, helps to overcome.
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