"Tipping Point" for Data Quality and Data Governance?

I just finished reading "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" and I found it to be a somewhat moving and very thought provocative book. As I finished up I couldn't help but think about the question "What is going to be the tipping point for Data Quality and Governance?". Most organizations say their data is an asset to be managed like other assets, right? They say "People are our greatest asset" and hence they have an HR department. They say "Our technology is our greatest asset" and they have an IT department. Yet very few organizations have a Data Governance Group. Those of us who do have such a group pretty much have to figure out how to run it from the ground up because this type of group isn't very popular. Sure there are folks out there who write tons of books/articles and are willing to help out (ie. David Loshin). Since Data Governance and Data Quality are a somewhat emerging "culture" other then reading these articles/books and stealing a moment or two of an expert's time at a conference you can't really find too many people out there who can lay out a foundation of "how should this be done?". It will take a series of small events to happen such that organizations realize they should have such a Data Governance group and they can be stood up in a somewhat repeatable fashion - a "tipping point" - much like the mature manner of standing up an HR department and traditional software development shop.

Sometime ago I told a friend that I attend meetings at the local DAMA and he asked "how many people go to to the meetings and what is the average age of the group?". I told him that it's just a handful of folks and most of the folks were probably a bit older then yours truly. His response: "maybe you need to find a different passion, perhaps data architecture isn't a good market to be in".

I'm no mind reader and I have no crystal ball, but I'm thinking that the market for us "data geeks" is going to explode. I'm hoping that the below "trends" on Data Quality and Data Governance take off sometime in the next few years. I can't tell you when the "tipping point" is going to be and what the "small things" to make it happen are, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed to ride that wave. Perhaps at some point more then a handful of folks out there will consider what we do to be "moving and very thought provocative" - just as the fantastic book by Malcolm Gladwell.

Image 1: Search trends for Data Quality and Data Governance - past 12 months

Image 2: Search trends for Data Quality and Data Governance - going way back when...

Until next time...Rich


Dylan Jones said…
Great post Rich.

I think we're at the tipping point.

Okay, as manager of a data quality community I'm 100% biased but I don't think sites like ours or great resources like the Data Governance Institute etc. could survive if there wasn't such a big demand. Today they're thriving and
growing rapidly.

We get a lot of new members every day and these are from the most diverse organisations you can think of, from big corporate to charities.

Also, just look at the activity on the LinkedIn data quality/governance groups, there is a massive community growing there.

So, yes, this smells like a tipping point to me. I speak to a lot of members who are deploying data quality solutions strategically across the enterprise and moving away from repetitive, costly cleanse, to "Real Data Quality", this means that as an industry we're moving up the maturity scale, another firm indication of progress.

Also, the recent IAIDQ report highlighted many positives for the profession which I believe also points to a tipping point overall (see http://www.dataqualitypro.com/data-quality-home/2009-information-data-quality-salary-and-job-satisfaction-re.html)

I think we've still got a long way to go before DQ/DG is entrenched in the blueprint of every organisation but I think there is certainly a groundswell that is rippling into most progressive, data driven organisations.
Rich said…
Great comments Dylan, thanks for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. As you can see I'm very excited and have a significant vested interest in this movement. Best...Rich
Dylan Jones said…
I actually think efforts by people like yourself as an example of the rise in social media has had a major impact on spreading the word, it's great to see another DQ related blog spring up.

This spread of ideas, jobs, contacts, experiences and advice is really having a profound effect, and that's not me being all Web2.0 and starry eyed, I really hear that all the time from our members.

The most powerful DQ tool in any business is a community, it really is so powerful.

Best of luck with the blog Rich, really look forward to hearing about your personal DQ journey.
daragh.obrien said…

Great post. It echoes a lot of what we have heard from IAIDQ members, in particular on the recent webinar with Larry English & Tom Redman. (http://iaidq.org/ask-the-expert/2009-09-23.shtml)

Like Dylan, the IAIDQ is growing as well - and we are growing with a clear purpose towards helping the profession of "Information Quality" (or "Data Quality" if that's your preference) mature in the similar way as Project Management has matured.

Regarding the tipping point, I wrote back in April in the IAIDQ Newsletter about an emerging trend in litigation which is going to put the people who know about DG, IQ, DA and all these "foundational" disciplines front and centre. (http://iaidq.org/publications/obrien-2009-04.shtml)

Best of luck with your blog and welcome to the Information Quality Blogging community. You might be interested in checking out the IAIDQ's Blog Carnival initiative (http://iaidq.org/main/blog-carnival.shtml).

Look forward to hearing from you.
Phil Simon said…
Really god post, Rich.

Ironically, I just finished Gladwell's book as well. I really enjoyed it, but I'll stay on point here.

I am not sure if there'll be one big event or a series of little ones.

I'd posit that one of three things would cause DQ and DG to "tip":

1. an organization gets mauled by way of an audit, something that DQ or DG would have prevented.
2. an organization avoids said mauling because of those very DQ and DG efforts
3. a series of little things happen that make executives appreciate the importance of DQ and DG.

I also hope that you're right--i.e., that "the Geeks shall inherit the earth."

Great post, man.
Vish said…
Wonderful post indeed.
I am noticing increasing focus on risk management and governance across organizations. Obviously as more and more organizations focus on risk management (for financial/compliance and overall risks), they cannot do effective job at that without paying well deserved attention to data quality (and issues associated with it). Days of running data quality projects from broom door closets are definitely over and increasingly data quality projects are getting sponsorships from CFO’s/CIOs.

Go data geeks.

Happy blogging.

Vish Agashe