You will only see it when you get it

Deel dit bericht

In memory of Johan Cruijff who passed away last year, I would like to project this statement on the data in your company. Data, the new oil, is of great importance, according to a growing group of managers. But do we really get it? Do we understand the consequence of saying that data is important. What does one mean with data exactly?

Let’s first unravel some types of data that we encounter. We can talk about:
• the data that is in your systems (like sales orders, financial data),
• the quality of that data (e.g. are all fields populated properly),
• the definitions of the data (a sales order number is numeric and 10 positions),
• the meaning of terms (a customer is a person or organization that has purchased at least one product),
• the governance of your data (who is accountable for the right definitions),
• the systems, servers and software that are in use,
• Big data, Master data, Reference data,
• management information,
• reports and what is on these reports etc. etc.  

It is a long list of data assets in various appearances. So if we say that data is important for our company, what exactly do we mean? What is the impact of this?

If you think about it a little longer you can wonder what you already know of your data assets. Is it clear for everyone or is it in the heads of a few persons? What we see in practice is that the latter is the case. Here lies an opportunity for improval because all these various data assets can cause problems for an organization. For example if data quality is not on the right level, if there is no consensus on the meaning of terms, if we don´t know where data is stored you can be faced with unexpected troubles.

In other words all or at least most definitions of these data assets are of importance. Not for nothing a growing number of companies assign Chief Data Officers as member of the management team to get in control of their data (assets). Nevertheless most organizations don’t have complete control over their data assets yet. The question that we should ask ourselves is:

Do we know what we don’t know about our data? And is that a problem?

It is a fact that the better educated we are the more we are aware of all the things we don’t know. The better we know our data assets, the greater the awareness will be that there is a lot to learn about our data.

We are convinced that you will only see it when you get it. What is your opinion?

Erik Schaap is Data Quality & Data Governance specialist at IntoDQ.