One of my fellow Information Quality practitioner-bloggers wrote recently about the emergence of what he labelled “DQ2.0”. You can read Henrik’s original post here.
While I don’t disagree with many of the points and questions raised by Henrik, I do have Â a problem with the use of a label like “DQ2.0” to describe what is ultimately the maturing of a profession and the evolution of an industry.
My issues with the label are based on commercial grounds (I’m looking to develop a business providing consulting services in the Information Quality space), personal grounds (there are things that just feel ‘hinky’ to me), and from my perspective as a Director of the only Professional Association specifically serving Information Quality professionals.
Commercial Objections – making the tricky sell even trickier
While it is tempting to apply labels that align with the latest buzzwords to help grease the wheels of conversation, I have suggest that buzzword phrases inevitably fall into the trap of either being hijacked by vendors (“Our tool is DQ2.0”) or dismissed as yet another fad.
In my planned business venture I’m targeting SME and upwards for information quality services.Â Conversations I’ve had to date with some of my target market, and my experience working on IQ projects in a large corporate in my pre-redundancy days, Â has been that many business managers or owner-managers don’t quite get the Information Quality thing. A key challenge is to explain why the advice of their accountant or bank manager or an IT consultant about these things may not be the most informed. Adding another layer of lingo, in my commercial view, might only add further to the confusion (“OK… I understand this DQ thing… but I’ve read about this DQ2.0. Can your company sell me that?“).
Ultimately, within the “DQ2.0” concept we aren’t presenting anything particularly new. The ability to access more authorative reference data sets to help validate and improve quality is not a change, it is just reducing the barriers to adoption and (hopefully) reducing the costs of implementing effective quality processes for information. The increasing adoption of SOA is simply serving to make many of the historically invisible issues of poor data definition and sloppy process design unavoidably visible in businesses.
Ultimately, these things are just making it easier to develop the case for getting the quality of information managed effectively.
My personal gut feel
From a personal perspective, I actually think that putting a version number on Data Quality runs the risk of further compounding the “That’s an IT problem” problem.
Add to that the on-going debate within the profession about whether the correct labelling is “Information Quality” or “Data Quality” or “Information/Data Quality” or “Derek”, and sticking a version number on the end seems, in my view, to be just a bad idea that invites further confusion.
After all, we are not talking about a massive paradigm shift in the fundamental thinking of how information quality can be managed or improved. The growth in available reference data sets, often with government approval, is simply an evolution of the market. The increasing awareness of the importance of Information Quality to SOA environments is, again, a maturing of the profession (and perhaps a result of business and IT people actually communicating for once). The increasing awareness of the information quality problems caused by cultural biases in data modelling or process design is perhaps just a by product of me ranting about companies demanding my postcode when my country doesn’t have one (oh, and Graham Rhind may have had an influence too).
Web2.0 represented a significant shift in the way the interet worked and was interacted with by citizens of the web. However, I don’t see Tim O’Reilly proclaiming a new Web2.x each time a new CMS tool emerges or microblogging platform springs to life or plugin is released for WordPress.
But using reference data, understanding the impact of technology platforms on information quality (and vice versa) and avoiding biases in design that undermine the quality of information Â are not new things or a significant paradigm shift in the Information Quality world. They are some of the fundamental principles and activities that need to be included in any Information Quality project.
Developing an Information Quality offering for smaller businesses is simply a natural evolution of the profession and a broadening of the market into which professionals seek to offer their services, particularly as there are likely to be a growing number of “hired gun” information quality professionals who have cut their teeth in larger corporates and who will need to work with smaller organisations to develop sustainable businesses. This is not “DQ2.0”, this is simply an evolution of the profession as we reach a critical mass of practitioners who wear the label “Information Quality Professional”.
From my IAIDQ perspective
I need to be careful when writing this bit that my words aren’t read as being the definitive IAIDQ position here. This is not an IAIDQ website, it is my personal blog. However, as someone who has been working for the past few years to develop an Association of professionals in the IDQ/IQ/DQ discipline, that role affects my reaction to the “DQ2.0” phrase.
The fact that we are talking about DQ2.0 indicates that the profession is maturing and we are slowly and steadily creeping into the “mainstream” of thinking. Graham Rhind is correct to point out in his reponse to Henrik’s post that there are different levels of maturity out there. However, this is true of all professions and represents an opportunity for those of us (practitioners, consultants, and professional organisations) to help the less mature climb the ladder.
However, applying the label “DQ2.0” may not serve the profession or those who we as practitioners seek to help as it creates yet another potential silo and sub-division in the mindspace of people. As already discussed, many of the illustrations Henrik raises in support of a “DQ2.0” are simply elements of a level of information quality maturity, not a new “fork” of the profession or skillsets.
However, labelling these issues as a “new” 2.0 version of Information Quality does a disservice to range of knowledge areas required to be an effective Information/Data Quality professional. And ultimately, it distracts from the fundamental issue which is the things that need to be done to improve and ensure the quality of data and information.
It’s the stupid information quality (or words to that effect)
You can reparse the heading of this section to get either a paraphrasing of Bill Clinton’s famous quote on the US economy or one of the common reasons for 84% of all ERP implementations failing to meet their objectives.
And this is what it is all about… not whether we are dealing with 0.1 of Data Quality or DQ2.0.
Yes, use version numbers as milestone markers in an internal programme of work to evolve your organisation up the maturity ladder towards smoothly running Information Quality. But please don’t label the discipline in this way.
My late grandfather was, amongst other things, a master carpenter and master plasterer. When he started his trades his tools were all hand powered. He did not think of his trade as “carpentry 2.0” the day he bought an electric drill. The fundamental principles of carpentry remained the same. When the trade moved from lat-and-horsehair plastering to gypsum drywall plasterboards, it didn’t change the profession to “Plastering 2.0”.
The tools and new materials just meant he could do things a little faster, and perhaps a little cheaper. As a jobbing plasterer he also did work for big projects and smaller clients. Having good tools helped him meet their needs faster, but having proven skills and experience in the fundamentals of his trade meant he did a good job for those clients.
Let’s not play buzzword bingo with the profession. Let’s focus on the fundamentals needed to do a good job and improve the quality of information for all information consumers.