Reflecting On Data Quality In 2011

With just a few days remaining in what has been an eventful year, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the world of data quality as I’ve observed it over the past twelve months.  While the idea of data quality improvement in general didn’t change much, the way that companies are viewing and approaching it most certainly have.  Here are three areas that seemed to come up quite frequently:

Data governance awareness grew

In thinking about all the customer interactions that I was involved in throughout the year, it’s hard to come up with one where the topic of data governance didn’t surface.  Whereas before, the topic of data governance only seemed to come up for companies with more mature data management organizations, now it seems everyone is looking to build a governance framework in conjunction with their data quality efforts.  Furthermore, while previously the conversation was largely driven by IT, now it’s both IT and business stakeholders that are looking for answers to how data governance can help them drive better business outcomes.  In increasingly competitive market conditions, we can only expect this trend to continue.  Whether it’s focused on increasing revenue, driving out cost or managing risk and compliance, data quality with data governance is where companies of all sizes are turning to create and sustain a differentiated edge.   Trends like big data will only make this need more acute.

Business is increasingly stepping into the picture

As I mentioned above, data related conversations are no longer driven by IT alone.  Whether it’s data quality, master data management or data governance, increasingly business stakeholders are coming to the table looking for solutions to their company’s data related challenges.  This is not necessarily a new phenomenon but rather is a positive sign because it means a broader part of the organization is increasingly seeing the value that data has to an organization.  There’s still a long way to go but it’s encouraging to see this going in the right direction.

Companies are looking for what data quality has to offer – but haven’t made the connection yet

The term data quality in many cases carries a negative connotation.  Mention data quality to a key decision maker and they’ll look at you sideways as if you’re speaking a different language.   Data quality, for most, is just another IT project that doesn’t yield much value but also comes with additional cost and complexity.   What these same decision makers will tell you, however, is that they want to drive additional value out of the projects that they have invested in.  What they don’t realize is that data quality improvement is directly responsible for driving improvements in data warehouses, enterprise applications and master data management (MDM) hubs, to name a few.

All these are encouraging and point to a broader level of maturity in the market with respect to data.  While they cover the top level themes that I observed throughout the year, I’m sure there are others that are equally important.  So what trends did you see?  In my next post I’ll be taking a look ahead, calling out some predictions for 2012.

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