This isn’t Jeopardy


Imagine a political debate between two candidates where one candidate answers every question quickly, beaming with confidence, and the other candidate answers every question slowly, and with less assertiveness in their response.

Which candidate will appear superior?

Prior to fact checking, I’d wager that most people would assume the quick and confident candidate was superior.  And fact checking doesn't always help since political debates often intentionally hinge on questions without a correct answer, polarizing voters around opinions instead of facts.

But the business world is more fact-based than opinion-driven.  Right?

Now imagine an organization with two decision-support systems where one system is faster, but has a higher error rate, and the other system is slower, but has a lower error rate.

Which system will appear superior to business decision makers?

In a business world where time wasn’t a factor, slow and low would be the way to go, allowing taking all the time needed to make certain the correct decision is made using the best data.

However, time is a factor in the business world, and with the growing demand for real-time decisions, flying high seems to be the only way to get by, prioritizing decision speed over data quality and biasing decision makers toward systems that produce answers quickly, but not necessarily correctly.

“This is Jeopardy!” is the tagline for the long-running American television quiz show Jeopardy! where contestants must answer questions correctly to win money, but they must also ring-in faster than their opponents to be the first to answer.  Although you have to know the correct answer to win money, being slower than your competitors means, despite your knowledge, you go home with nothing.

Even though there are times when real-time decision making is needed, for most business decisions, this isn’t jeopardy.  Just as bigger data isn’t always better, faster decisions isn’t always better.

Prioritizing data quality might slow down some decisions, which might risk losing some opportunities, but always prioritizing decision speed might end up jeopardizing your organization’s chances to win.


About Author

Jim Harris

Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ)

Jim Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with 25 years of enterprise data management industry experience. Jim is an independent consultant, speaker, and freelance writer. Jim is the Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality, an independent blog offering a vendor-neutral perspective on data quality and its related disciplines, including data governance, master data management, and business intelligence.

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