~by Paul Harris

Meet David Loshin, president of Knowledge Integrity, Inc. David is a recognized thought leader and expert consultant in the areas of data quality, master data management, and business intelligence (BI). David is a prolific author regarding BI best practices, via the expert channel at www.b-eye-network.com and numerous books and papers on data quality.

Recently, Global-Z had the unique opportunity to interview Loshin and discuss issues that are changing the way businesses think about data.

Global-Z – Everyone talks about the term “Big Data.” How would you define it from a modern perspective?

Loshin- The challenge for defining something like “big data” is to share thoughts that clarify the (now institutionalized) messaging that focuses on “volume, velocity, and variety.” My perspective is that big data reflects a capability for capturing many different large data sets for archival or analytical purposes using scalable technologies and techniques that are no longer beyond the capabilities of most enterprises. An example is the use of open source tools for harnessing commodity hardware to provide a scalable parallel computational resource for analyzing multiple large data sets for customer profiling. There are other aspects such as creating massive elastic data stores. There are lots of opportunities, and it will be interesting to see how more organizations take on big data within the enterprise.

Global-Z – What reoccurring mistakes do most organizations make when they begin a data quality (DQ) program?

Loshin- One of the biggest issues I see in initiating a data quality program is the perception that tools are going to solve data quality problems. In many cases, organizations evaluate and buy tools but neglect to put the right kinds of processes and standards in place, or provide the right training to staff members for using the tools.

Global-Z – Data stewards can become overwhelmed by all the continual hoops they have to jump through to make sure DQ initiatives are moving forward. What advise can you give to a team that feels like they are “stuck in the mud?”

Loshin- Having a clear vision of the expected outcomes for data governance can be a great motivating factor. Specific program objectives can be translated into milestones and deliverables, and at the same time you can define measures for monitoring observance of defined data policies. Making sure you have a plan that maps specific tasks to the deliverables and milestones will help keep you from getting stuck in the mud.

Global-Z – What common challenges do you see when organizations have to deal with international data (i.e., data from outside their domestic borders)?

Loshin- The biggest issue in the past was having access to any sources of information about international data and international data standards. This has changed dramatically in the recent years, although it still poses a challenge. Another critical governance challenge is tracking international privacy and data protection rules and making sure that the way data sets are handled does not violate any jurisdictional privacy regulations. And one more – being able to handle international data altogether can be challenging if you can’t manage Unicode character sets. That can be a really big problem.

Global-Z – Five years from now, what do you think will happen to the companies that continue to ignore DQ issues?

Loshin- More and more, companies are seeing how effective business processes are really dependent on information. And those companies that understand this dependence rightfully incorporate data governance and data quality as part of their system development lifecycle. Organizations that don’t “get it” are destined to become less competitive as they lag in rapidly taking advantage of emerging opportunities inherent in analyzing their data. I see data quality management as an enabling capability that must become a “dial tone” service.

Global-Z – Your book, “The Practitioners Guide to Data Quality Improvement” is regarded a practical resource for anyone in the DQ field. What other literature about DQ would you suggest to our readers?

Loshin- I have put together a collection of books that are useful data quality resources – see http://astore.amazon.com/dqbook-20 which is a portal listing different DQ books that I set up for people interested in data quality!



~ by Jennifer Martell and Katie Favreau, Global-Z Co-Morale Officers

On an entirely different subject, Global-Z also celebrated three of our employees attaining the ten year mark.  This is quite an accomplishment.  One of our company’s strengths is its ability to attract and retain people of the highest caliber.  Stability and longevity are part of what allows GZ employees to gain expertise in our respective departments and foster strong relationships with our customers.  More importantly, it also gives us yet another reason to indulge in cake, which is strongly recommended if you are attempting to maintain a high level of morale.For our next installment, I want to discuss the importance of data quality.  I know what you’re thinking.  What does this have to do with the Ambassadors of Fun?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Data quality at a high resolution is not only important to ensuring that your mail piece is delivered in a timely manner and reaches its ultimate destination, but that all the pertinent information is easily accessible and accurate.  Imagine, for instance that you were a Friendly Neighborhood Co-Morale Officer and all the available data pointed to the fact that you were going to deliver a sweet baby girl.  You trust the available data and don’t run it through a quality hygiene process such as Global-Z’s proprietary address correction and validation.  Imagine your surprise when the time comes and instead of the sweet baby girl, you are delivered an entirely different “male piece.”  With that said, my Co-Morale Officer added another member to the GZ family.  We welcomed baby Riley Evan Favreau to our team even though he was supposed to be a girl.  Nobody can say that Global-Z doesn’t deliver.   The moral of this story is that it is important to be able to trust your data.

In other news, if you are a Global-Z employee, you might want to never be absent from the office for any reason.  Trade shows, conferences, client meetings?  Nope!  No one is safe from the scheming of the Morale Officers, not even the “Boss.”  You may just come back to find that some evil person, not in any way connected with the aforementioned Morale Officers, has toilet papered your cubicle and fully documented it with pictures for no other reason than the fact that you were gone.  On the flip side, if you are out for a sickness or injury, the Morale Officers would absolutely be involved in providing you with “chocolate therapy” and a smiley-faced balloon lovingly named “Bob.”  The Morale Officers oversaw princess-themed birthday party favors, Fourth of July red, white, and blue treats, Hello Kitty cakes, and even a lighthouse themed birthday cake because an employee foolishly mentioned that he liked Maine in the hearing of the Morale Officers.

Let your imagination flow when you are planning your own moral-boosting activities.  Be sure to strictly adhere to the letter of your company policy.  If it says nothing about toilet papering cubicles, then you’re probably free to do whatever you want, at least, that’s how we interpret the rules.  Our company policy also says nothing about punkin chunkin contests or sledding down the driveway in winter.  Be sure to check back for pictures of those future events.  That will have to do for now, after all, Morale-ing is not our only job.  Take care then, bye bye now.