Why Isn’t Data Enrichment A Standard Practice In Every Data Warehousing Project?

Data enrichment is a terrific way to increase the value proposition of your data warehouse, and yet, it is implemented quite rarely. With data enrichment you can almost overnight provide your sales team with additional mountains of information about the demographics of prospects, provide finance with accurate client addresses and other contact info, provide marketing with competitive information about companies in related industries and help manufacturing by assigning standard attributes to parts used in manufacturing. So, why is Data enrichment not a standard phase for almost any data warehouse project?
Let’s start by understanding what data enrichment is. By data enrichment, I am referring to the practice of adding additional data attributes that do not exist within company internal databases, to data that does. There are many companies that provide such enrichment services in almost any industry, probably one of the most well-known ones is D&B. So, for example, you could send Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) your client list and get in return the complete address, phone and some other stats about the companies in the list.

That sounds terrific, right? The premise is simple and is loaded with ROI. If you have the money to invest in such a process, why wouldn’t you? Well, the answers are typically related to process, trust and being able to step “outside-of-the-box”.
Strange as it may sounds, data warehouses are quite intimate affairs. They involve millions, or billions or details about the way individuals go about conducting their business as part of their day-to-day work.  As such they are considered a core part of the business and opening up this internal, often highly pervasive and massive database to an external, foreign data source can be a difficult proposition for both business line and IT managers.
There are also technical challenges involved in such integration, such as the ability to sync the historical changes in the organic company data with the historical changes (if any are tracked) in the procured data. Sometimes, there is also a need to provide feedback on such procured data, and a feedback loop/mechanism must be developed.
And finally, it does require some degree of “out-of-the-box” thinking to integrate an external data feed used to enrich company data into your most internal and intimate database.
If you are able to overcome the procedural, trust and “out-of-the-box” challenges though, you may find yourself rewarded with a wealth of information your business users would find extremely useful and that you would not have been able to obtain otherwise.

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