Do you know what’s in your data box of chocolates?
You must know where it is, what it should contain and what it actually contains.
When your data does not contain what it should, you must have a process for correcting it.
CEOs, CFOs and CROs often take the above as “given”. They make business critical decisions using information derived from data within their organisation. After all, its applied common sense.
For the insurance industry, Solvency II requires evidence that you are applying common sense.
If you operate in the EU market or process the personal data of EU data subjects, you must comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or face severe fines. To comply, you must “know your (personal) data” and how you manage it.
In my experience, data is like a box of chocolates “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
I believe that we data quality professionals need a paradigm shift in the way we think about data. We need to make “Get data right first time” and “Data Quality By Design” such no brainers that procrastination is not an option. We need to promote a vision of the future in which all data is reusable and interchangeable – a world of “Plug and Play Data”.
Everybody, even senior business management, understand the concepts of “plug and play” and reusable play blocks. For “plug and play” to succeed, interconnecting parts must be complete, fully moulded, and conform to clearly defined standards. Hence “plug and play data” must be complete, fully populated, and conform to clearly defined standards (business rules).
How can organisations “get it right first time” and create “plug and play data”?
It is now relatively simple to invoke cloud based verification from any part of a system through which data enters.
For example, when opening a new “Student” bank account, cloud based verification might prompt the bank assistant with a message like “Mr. Jones’ date of birth suggests he is 48 years old. Is his date of birth correct? Is a “Student Account” appropriate for Mr. Jones”?
We Data Quality Professionals need to educate both Business and IT on the need for, and the benefits of “plug and play data”. We need to explain to senior management that data is no longer needed or used by only one application. We need to explain that even tactical solutions within Lines of Business need to consider Enterprise demands for data such as:
Data feed into regulatory systems (e.g Anti Money Laundering, BASEL II, Solvency II)
Access from or data feed into CRM system
Access from or data feed into Business Intelligence system
Ad hoc provision of data to satisfy regulatory requests
Increasingly – feeds to and from other organisations in the supply chain
Ultimate replacement of application with newer generation system
We must educate the business on the increasingly dynamic information requirements of the Enterprise – which can only be satisfied by getting data “right first time” and by creating “plug and play data” that can be easily reused and interconnected.
Lego blocks allow the average person to build practically anything, because they come in standard sizes, and interconnect with ease.
Having built a model, one may later take it apart and reuse the standard blocks to build other models. One may do this time and again, giving hours of enjoyment.
Plane carved from wood
By contrast, few people have the skill to carve models from wood.
Once carved, it is practically impossible to ‘remodel’, and completely impossible to reuse any of the parts for other than firewood.
What has the above ‘common sense’ got to do with data quality?
Imagine trying to build a lego model using partially moulded lego blocks? Imagine opening your lego model kit to discover that some of the pieces were missing. Truly unimaginable.
We in the Data Quality Profession need to educate both Business and IT on the need to create “standard data components”, that can be easily interconnected to satisfy the information requirements of the business.
Currently, the focus of the Data Quality Industry is on data “Fixing” – remoulding data into parts that are more complete, and more useable. I see this continuing for a long time, due to the vast quantity of legacy data. I see the focus moving more towards “get it right first time’ with the emphasis on creating completely moulded, standard component parts from the outset.