These days, food packaging includes ingredients and a standard set of nutrition facts. This is required by law in many countries.
Food consumers have grown accustomed to seeing this information, and now expect it. It enables them to make informed decisions about the food they buy, based on a standard set of facts.
Remarkable as it may seem, data consumers are seldom provided with facts about the data feeding their critical business processes.
Most data consumers assume the data input to their business processes is “right”, or “OK”. They often assume it is the job of the IT function to ensure the data is “right”. But only the data consumer knows the intended purpose for which they require the data. Only the data consumer can decide whether the data available satisfies their specific needs and their specific acceptance criteria. To make an informed choice, data consumers need to be provided with facts about the data content available.
The IT function, or a data quality function, can, and should provide standard “data content facts” about all critical data such as the facts shown in the example.
In the sample shown, a Marketing Manager wishing to mailshot customers in the 40-59 age range might find that the data content facts satisfy his/her data quality acceptance criteria.
The same data might not satisfy the acceptance criteria for a manager in the Anti Money Laundering (AML) area requesting an ETL process to populate a new AML system.
Increasing regulation means that organisations must be able to demonstrate the quality and trace the origin of the data they use in critical business processes.
In Europe, Solvency II requires insurance and re-insurance undertakings to demonstrate the data they use for solvency calculations is as complete, appropriate and accurate as required for the intended purpose. Other regulatory requirements such as Dodd Frank in the USA, BASEL III and BCBS 239 are also seeking increasing transparency regarding the quality of data underpinning our financial system.
While regulation may be a strong driving force for providing standard data content facts, an even stronger one is the business benefit that to be gained from being informed. Some time ago Gartner research showed that approximately 70% of CRM projects failed. I wonder were the business owners of the proposed CRM system shown data content facts about the data available to populate the proposed CRM system?
In years to come, we will look back on those crazy days when data consumers were not shown data content facts about the data they were consuming.