Most organizations know that their data resources are less than perfectly accurate or complete, and that poor data quality hampers their efficiency. Data clean-up projects rarely rise to a significant priority, however, as long as the people who interact directly with the data can correct it as needed. Their knowledgeable keystrokes enable purchase orders to be initiated and fulfilled, invoices paid, metrics tracked, and reports rolled up to quantify all these processes and results. Even if the information being utilized is not entirely accurate or complete, it is good enough to maintain the day-to-day operation of the business.
Organizations have had a series of technological opportunities to address their data quality issues over the past 20 years. First came the shift from mainframe computers to client/server implementations, followed by the deployment of data warehouses, and, more recently, the migration of data stores and applications into the cloud. At each of these junctures, organizations might also have undertaken a comprehensive review of their data assets, and implemented policies and procedures that would ensure ongoing data quality and data governance. Instead, most organizations settled for making their data just good enough to accomplish the desired technological upgrade.
The latest technological opportunity to address data quality and improve data governance is at hand today, in the form of Big Data technologies and advanced analytic applications (BDA). Once again, enterprises are in danger of missing the data governance boat. Seeing what data-driven companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Uber have accomplished, many organizations hope that BDA projects will help them to emulate these pioneers. They may suspect that their vast stores of messy data will slow their efforts, but they aren’t making data quality improvements part of their BDA plans.
At the same time, data security and privacy concerns are mounting. These also point directly to the need for improved data governance; but, again, most organizations choose to steer around the larger issue—instead, implementing more narrowly-focused compliance solutions that satisfy the minimum of governmental and industry directives.
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