There's been a lot of discussion around the proliferation of data sources in organizations, and for good reason. There are so many ways to consume data now.
When I first started working we would send out paper reports. Then Excel came along and we started sending out spreadsheets. Then organizations tried to control things a bit more, so dashboards were created. While there are more new channels to receive data, none of the older ones have become obsolete. People are always going to receive data from multiple channels and on multiple devices, and you can’t change that. But how do you know what data you can trust?
The consumption of news is a good example of this. You've still got the gossiping neighbor, newspapers, TV, the internet, and social media. Over time we’ve just learned to receive and consume news from all of these different channels, with varying degrees of detail. People will always use the channel that’s simple and easy for them and that they’re most comfortable with. They then learn to trust that channel.
What organizations need is data that they know they can trust in every channel. You need to be able to trust the data that your people are working with and that’s being presented to you. It’s not uncommon to walk into a meeting with all your data on papers, spreadsheets and dashboards, and each of them has a different number. So which one do you believe?
The biggest challenge facing organizations trying to build a data culture is knowing what data they can trust. When you've got a proliferation of data, you have to make sure that everyone's using exactly the same data source and methods to describe the business. That's got to be governed and controlled.
Rather than concentrating on trying to get everyone to consume data in the same way, organizations need to focus on building a data architecture that they can trust. It needs to allow people to use it with as many different delivery mechanisms as they like. While you’ll never be able to stop people from using the channels that make sense for them, you can ensure that you can trust the data they’re using.
The secret to successful business decision making
Successful decision making with aligned numbers and a solid data culture comes from a foundation of data governance. Download the paper by founder of the data warehousing industry, Barry Devlin, on how to govern data successfully.