Gobble till you wobble. It’s a common phrase this time of year as friends and families gather together for a Thanksgiving feast. From sweet potatoes and stuffing, to Brussels sprouts and green bean casserole, to pumpkin pie and pecan pie, the list of favorite dishes is long. And at the centerpiece of the meal is the turkey. I started to think about turkeys the other day, and began to wonder, is a gobble just a gobble? Or can a gobble have multiple meanings? Do turkeys, like business people, have foul semantic arguments? I did some research, and here’s what I found.
Turkeys communicate with each other in much the same way as humans. Yes, they gobble, but did you also know that they yelp, cluck, and purr? And that each of these sounds has a distinct meaning, understood by all turkeys? For example, if a male turkey gobbles while strutting around, he’s sending a clear signal to the lady turkeys that they should flock to him. When a turkey – male or female – makes a clucking sound, it lets other turkeys know that they have arrived. And if a turkey clucks back, it means that they know another turkey is nearby. A purr indicates contentment, and lets other turkeys in the area know that things are fine.
Clearly, turkeys have clear and distinct meanings for every sound that they make, and the meanings are commonly understood across the turkey community. If only communication and meaning were that simple in the business world.
The reality for many businesses is that they have many data assets that mean very different things across the business. For example, when Sales talks about a customer, they may refer to someone who is potentially going to buy their product or service. Finance, on the other hand, many define a customer as someone who has an active, signed contract with the organization. This is a very simple example. But I’m sure you can imagine the confusion – even arguments –that can ensue if these differing definitions are not commonly understood across the organization.
In order to understand the meaning of data, organizations need true data governance. They need to empower everyone who uses data to do his or her job – the data citizens – to find, understand, and trust the data. When that happens, organizations can unlock the true potential of their data. They can uncover insights that spark innovation, and drive efficiencies that give their company competitive edge.
So maybe businesses can learn a lesson from the turkeys. Govern your data so its meaning is commonly understood across the business. Because when you do that, you’ll put an end to data brawls, nobody will lose his head – and your business will win. Purrrr.
Collibra is thankful for all of its customers worldwide, and wishes everyone who celebrates it, a Happy Thanksgiving.