No, not the size-zero (or below) fashion-sticks that pogo across the catwalks of the world enticing the somewhat-larger to buy, but the modeling of all of the information within an organisation in a single unified form. Said like that, it’s simple, but in reality there are lots of complexity buried away that need to be teased out and resolved (or, pragmatically, glossed over)
In the beginning there was the product, and then came the customers, the systems that counted the money made from selling, the mergers and acquisitions that brought in new products (and thinking, processes and models) and finally there was the desire to tie all of this together in one holistic view of the enterprise. And there is our first problem, dotted throughout the company are fragments of a model to suit specific purposes. How an ERP system such as SAP treats product, may not be the same as how a product lifecycle system sees it; and it may well not be be sensible to coerce the two models to look the same (have you ever wanted to make a major change to an ERP system just for the sake of it?).
As my e-friend Beth mentioned unifying product is one of the trickier problems in creating a super model. Take for example an ice cream maker. Product development devise hundreds of recipes, and track them on their product development system, the best of these recipes go to taste trials and results recorded, the winners here go through to the marketeers who have a final say on whether they think that fig and chili ice cream will really be a commercial success. And then production recipes are created and costed, foods standards clearances obtained, launch budgets set and sales performance targets cast. Each stage we are dealing with the same product and the potential need to track back through this data when needed (think compliance auditors) Then add in the need to combine all of our systems with those of the competitor we just bought and need to make sure the commercial attributes of the product remain private for SoX compliance reasons, and the need to keep existing IT systems working without the need to be rebuilt to accept the new data model and the only practical solution is to build a metadata based model that links the existing systems.