I gave some thought recently about the different types of informaton that hundreds of organisations must possess about me.
Credit card bills, health records, mortgage payments, loans and savings, social media profiles, employment history – the list goes on. An entire personal data store is scattered across hundreds of organisations and websites.
Bad data quality plagues me on a personal basis, of course, just like every consumer. I still get mail sent to my old address from four years ago, and companies still spell my name wrong. I've had one of my children mistaken with another child in a different part of the country and their medical records mixed up.
Organisations try to cope with the complexities of personal data. New innovations in master data management software mean that personal data can be sourced in one location and shared across the organisation via various means. Endless consolidations and migrations try to remove instances of duplicate data domains so that one app performs the same function of the many.
In effect we’re trying to bring data one step closer to the truth or a single source of the right information. For personal data, the source is us, the consumers of goods and services.
But we’re not just consumers, we’re also producers. Information producers.
Common sense dictates that if we can get our information directly from the producer it will be much richer in terms of accuracy and completeness. To get my billing records confirmed requires call centre workers to make ad hoc calls to clarify address and contact details, marriage status and so on. Alternatively, third-party data providers are also required to create a trusted reference point.
But what if all data was sourced from the consumer themselves? Imagine how accurate that source would be?
Initiatives like Mydex in the UK provide an intriguing view of where master data management could evolve in future years. By mastering our own data, consumers can start to take back control of our information. We can instantly see which organisations have certain access rights and privileges, what data they hold, which services we have purchased - the list is endless.
Five years ago the thought of personal master data management would have been laughable, but today we’re comfortable storing personal data in the form of images and documents via services like iCloud, Dropbox and Google Documents. The game has truly changed.
But why should we stop at personal data?
If you’re a manufacturer of pet food then why shouldn't your brand information be mastered in a company equivalent of an online master data repository that your suppliers, retailers and customers can access?
Right now, we’re focused on removing duplicate records and even duplicate systems, desperately trying to push the data further back towards the source and eliminate unwanted information chains. But what if there were no information chains? What if there were no customer names or product descriptions? What if systems were simply direct links to 100% accurate source data?
How would applications need to change? What would it take to make this happen?
Pipedream or near-reality? Welcome your views.