Ferraris don’t run on kerosene: The case for good data


Imagine a shiny, new red Ferrari in your driveway. You have splurged on it and cannot wait to rev the engine and pull ahead of the annoyingly slow cars on the highway. This is the machine that will take you to your destination with style and speed.

Would you run your Ferrari on kerosene? You would probably not even use regular unleaded gas and might even think twice before you use mid-grade fuel. Because you know fuel matters. The higher the quality of the fuel, the better the performance.

Do you do the same when trying to pull ahead of your competition?

Now, imagine you have invested in a best-of-breed business analytics solution or operational application. You are installing it, dreaming of getting that optimized recommendation to a business problem that is going to put you ahead of your competition. For example, customer satisfaction might skyrocket because your new marketing application is going to offer the best upsell product for your customers. But have you given a thought to the data that is going into the solution?

Data fuels all of your business technologies. And just like with fuel, quantity doesn't equal quality. Here are top three kinds of data that you might want to consider.

  1. Unleaded or regular data – This is basic data. You collect data and do some basic transformations before you feed it into your business solution. Sure, it works. But you don’t really trust the results of analyzing this data. With this kind of data you are the slow one on the information highway.
  2. Premium or standardized data – This is data that has been clean and enriched. You standardized the data, enriched it, and accounted for outliers. You spent time preparing the data, and it shows in the dashboards and reports. Apart from some extra time spent reconciling your reports (or double checking the recommendation of your business solution) you are a happy soul. You are cruising along the information highway.
  3. High-octane or master data – This is the path to data nirvana. Data is clean, enriched, governed and trustworthy. You have a consolidated view of every entity you deal with. Pure data is always on hand to feed your applications. Your departments and decision makers eagerly await every single report that your installed technologies churn out. Your competition is eating your dust in the information highway as you pull ahead of them.

You can't always buy a Ferrari. But when you do buy one, make sure you get the right fuel.  Similarly, you can't always get the best business application. Which is why when you invest in one, you should make sure you are feeding it the best possible data.

After all, Ferraris don’t run on kerosene.


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Madhu Nair

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