Are You Having a Data Groundhog Day?
So it’s Groundhog Day. And growing up in Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day has always been considered a sort of “holiday.” It’s the top story on the local news – morning and evening. And the ceremony for Phil, the most famous groundhog in PA, is actually quite elaborate. But it’s kind of silly, right? We all wait with baited breath for a small, brown rodent to pop his head out of the ground to determine whether we’ll have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. And much to my dismay, it’s almost always six more weeks of winter.
But when I think of Groundhog Day, I also think of the classic movie with Bill Murray. You know the one. Anchorman Phil Connors becomes stuck in a time loop where he relives the same day, over and over again. In the movie, the situation is funny. But in real life, it must be tedious – doing the same thing, over and over again, with the same result.
So I started thinking about things people do repeatedly. And given that I work for a data governance company, a certain business scenario came to mind. See if you recognize it.
Your boss invites you to an upcoming meeting where he wants you to share the results of your recent projects. You’re psyched. Finally – you get to share all the awesome stats that you’ve been collecting for this very occasion. You refine your slides again and again and rehearse you’re talking points. You’re feeling confident about your presentation until…
Your colleague shows up. And he, too, is presenting results. But his results tell a totally different story from the one you’re planning to tell. Instead of the awesome outcomes you’re about to share, his presentation leads to doom and gloom. But you’re not giving up. You deliver a confident presentation showing the exact opposite of what your colleague just shared. And at the end, there’s crickets. Until, that is, people start arguing over which results are right. The meeting takes a nasty turn and instead of making decisions, the audience debates what the data means and whose data is right. At Collibra, we call this a “data brawl.”
I’d like to say I’ve only ever seen this happen once, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Again and again, people from the same organization pull the same data from the various systems across the organization and use it to come to very different conclusions. It’s like Groundhog Day. But for data.
The good news is, there is a way out of this data Groundhog Day loop. It’s data governance. By putting in place enterprise-wide governance processes, coupled with a system of record for your data, you can put an end to the data brawls. Why? Because data governance gives everyone (yes, everyone) who uses data the ability to find, understand, and trust the data. And who doesn’t want that?
Oh, and in case you haven’t heard yet, the groundhog saw his shadow today, so it’s six more weeks of winter.