The four noble truths of data quality


Loraine Lawson recently used the Eight-Fold Path of Buddhism, in which practitioners are encouraged to pursue right views, intentions, speech, actions, livelihood, efforts, mindfulness and concentration, as inspiration for her blog post The Five-Fold Path for Ensuring Data = Information. The post offered five recommendations for ensuring that data is transformed into the information your organization needs to follow the right business path:

  1. Right Infrastructure — You need to ensure that you have the correct hardware, software and network – but you also need to streamline databases, eliminating silos and redundancies.
  2. Right Knowledge Process — Most organizations are so focused on operations, they forget about analytics, which is the process that completes the path from data to information to knowledge.
  3. Right Human Capital — Make sure that you help the people behind the data understand why their efforts are essential and how they can examine the broader, organizational perspective.
  4. Right Culture — Instill a culture where data is not only viewed as an asset, but is allocated the staffing and funding to truly manage and govern it as an asset and mitigate the risk of data becoming a liability.
  5. Right Leadership — Appoint a chief data officer who knows about both technology and the business, and who reports to either the COO or CEO, thus giving data its rightful seat at the executive table.

The Four Noble Truths of Data Quality

Following Bodhisattva Lawson’s enlightening theme, I will use the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism as inspiration for what I will call the Four Noble Truths of Data Quality:

  1. The Truth of Poor Data Quality — Even though many organizations wager poor data quality doesn’t exist, the truth is poor data quality is negatively impacting your organization right now.
  2. The Truth of the Origin of Poor Data Quality — The truth is, the origin of poor data quality can be traced – but do not oversimplify your search for it since there are almost always multiple root causes.
  3. The Truth of the Cessation of Poor Data Quality — While the complete cessation of poor data quality is a noble goal, the truth is that data quality is a journey, not a destination.
  4. The Truth of the Path to Better Data Quality — The path to better data quality exists and you can follow it. In Buddhism, this is where the Four Noble Truths flow into the Eight-Fold Path. With data, this is where data quality flows into data governance. Buddha emphasized he was not espousing something to believe in, but something to do. Likewise, the path to better data quality requires doing data governance.



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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