A change is needed in our approach to data. As Einstein said “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” The growing volume of data continues to stimulate new tools and technologies focused on data and its management. Most have served to expose the deplorable state of data; as their success depends on accurate integrated data. The attempt to “fix” the data issues have fallen short, with a tremendous amount of time, money and resources wasted in this dysfunctional cycle of data chaos, chasing the data problems.
Data is simply a way to represent the real world business organization, capturing the characteristics of reality considered important. The business organization uses its data representation to record, operate, decide, plan, report and predict business activities. If the data does not accurately represent the business organization, then every use of that data will be compromised.
Throughout the history of information technology, data has been viewed from its usage, as individual pieces used within business functions and their supporting applications. Each application requires its unique view of data which is often distorted for convenience and performance —no longer fitting back into the whole. As additional applications use this distorted data, it is further distorted. Just the thought of reassembly for BI or Data Integration is a nightmare. Add to that, all of the quick fixes in the middle of the night and it’s like trying to assemble a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle where most of the pieces have been chewed by the dog. This describes well the core challenge to managing data.
Nearly every data tool and initiative for the last 20 -30 years has been based on the bottom up, usage view of data, and where are we today? Data is in the worse shape ever. The tools and technologies have not failed, they work as intended. The failure is in the approach to data. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. We need a fundamental change in our approach to data and its management, now more than ever. In these economically challenging times, organizations cannot continue wasting valuable resources chasing the data issues, as well as making critical decisions on inaccurate data.
A holistic business, top-down approach to data is the fundamental change needed. This approach is based on data as it represents the real-world business organization, rather than its usage. A top-down business approach views data as a representation of the business, rather than a technology implementation view. Everything in a real-world business organization is inter-connected. What effects one part of the organization can potentially affect everything else — the same holds true for the data which represents it. Data cannot be treated or managed separately. This holistic business, top-down approach to data is the fundamental change needed to break the dysfunctional cycle of data chaos and get the data right — the one version of the truth, organizations so desperately seek.
Blogger Noreen Kendle