A colleague of mine recently posted a very interesting blog titled Do you trust your data?

This led me to think about the issues from the perspective of the data i.e. if I am a data set can I trust the people who handle me to do the right thing with or to me………

The datasets view:

It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am. I started small and now I’m so big people often refer to me as ‘big data’. However, I still have my needs and the same aims in life e.g. I want to be reliable, dependable, available and adapt to change. I don’t want to be perfect but fit for your use; I don’t want to be too needy and expensive to keep otherwise you may archive me or replace me.  

Please remember though if you treat me well, I will be faithful and true. Treat me unkindly and I will do whatever I can to make your life frustrating. Just think what I could do if I ever get to drive vehicles for you???

If you remove my competition I promise I will be stronger, I do not like to share the limelight with inferior spreadsheet copies of me.   If you put garbage into me then I won’t be happy and will only send even more garbage back at you.

If you care for me I will never become out of date; I have an ability to change if you allow me. However, if I change I want to be sure I’ve changed for the right reasons and not just because you think I will look better if I was different, or that I will fit into your perceived view of me. After all, I am what I am, and we will live together better if we fully understand each other.

If you have not specified what I need to look like, then I have no idea how to behave or what to tell you: I’ll try and predict this and tell you what I think you want to know which may not be right.

I can be so clever if I am set up correctly, I can auto correct, provide you with selectable values, undo and even auto archive. But if you don’t, I have an ability to ruin your day. I have a whole catalogue of sayings to throw at you, here are some of my favourites:

  • Invalid key stroke
  • Invalid data format
  • Command not recognised
  • No search results found
  • Data out of range
  • Can’t undo
  • Last session did not save

Sometimes I get abused. The Finance Department often reshape me and turn me into something I don’t recognise of myself, I think they call this accountancy. These days I’m used a lot in Business Intelligence or BI for short; they don’t like what I tell them most of the time.

The most fun I ever had was when someone put me through a data migration project. Someone thought I would be very different and much improved as a result, but no, I’m still the same but at least I have a new shiny coat to wear. At least I fared better than some of my cousins, one of them became schizophrenic after he was part of failed data migration. He has never been the same again!

I was so chuffed recently when I was honoured with the title of being the ‘Single version of the truth’ until I found out all my brothers and cousins were also receiving this award.

So please be very careful when handling me, I do not like any of the following:

  1. Being changed – unless my physical representation has also changed. And you have been given permission to change me. I hate to be ’dressed up’ or made to look good because my data is not giving you the answer you want to see; let me be me
  2. Do not share me – unless I let you. I may be sensitive and in retaliation I may undermine your business advantage
  3. Being taken for granted – Understand me and my ancestors. My provenance may increase our like for each other
  4. Copy me unnecessarily – I want to be unique and original
  5. Force me to look different from time to time – I like to be consistent
  6. Remove bits of me – I like to be complete
  7. Don’t let incompetent people near me – I will tell them lies or even worse I may delete myself and not come back
  8. Don’t assume I want to be housed in a nice expensive system – I am equally happy in a simple spreadsheet if I’m properly looked after and appreciated
  9. Don’t ignore me – if you show me you don’t care I will just not help you and I may even become obsolete
  10. Unstructured data – don’t get me started! Oh, how I hate whiteboards…

In summary, if you handle me correctly I promise I will serve you in the right way and shall be around as long as you need me. Treat me badly and I promise I can, and will, screw up your decisions. I do like to be user friendly, so can you please be data friendly?

Finally, if you want further knowledge on how I like to be treated speak to one of my friends and supporters at Data and Process Advantage.





3 thoughts on “Does your data trust you?

  • 12th September 2018 at 22:45

    Tongue in cheek and yet strangely appealing. I’ll share with my Data Analyst Apprentice….

    • 13th September 2018 at 08:41

      We try to present a slightly different perspective on data at an enterprise level – it is far more than just 1s and 0s. You may find some of our other blog posts informative/entertaining!

  • 13th September 2018 at 18:06

    An enjoyable and very true read Julian!


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