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Forget About Truth: Give Me the Facts!

In a recent post, Vipul Aroh, made the argument that ‘truth’ and data quality were incompatible and supported the Thomas Redman view that seeking one version of the truth in data was a ‘one lie strategy’.  If this were true, then Data Quality would be a completely flawed approach that ought to be abandoned immediately!  Now, although people’s obsession with digital data is flawed in very many ways (more about that in another post), it is not so flawed as to be abandoned.

This is a response that I posted on Vipul’s article (still waiting moderation!):

It is a complete fallacy that their cannot be a single version of the ‘truth’ in an enterprise. In fact, it is crucial that there is. When people claim that it cannot be done, what they are really saying is that THEY do not know how to do it.

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED AND MOVED TO http://jo-international.com/forget-about-truth-give-me-the-facts/

 

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3 Responses to “Forget About Truth: Give Me the Facts!”

  1. Vipul Aroh February 26, 2015 12:40 pm #

    John,

    First of all, let me apologize for your comment still awaiting moderation on my blog. I recently came to know that a technical snafu has meant that I have not been getting any comments to moderate.

    Coming to the topic in question, I agree with you that data has got more to do with arithmetic than philosophy, but when I (and of course, as far as I understood, Redman) talk about the truth, it is more about the interpretation of available data rather than the values contained in the data itself. That is why, your point about talking of ‘one version of the facts’ is well taken. However, I still feel that talking about the truth (as separate from the fact) still has a place in data management.

    I would love to know more about your distinction b/w digital data and real information and what you think about both of them. Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts.

  2. Bob Starinsky December 18, 2014 5:28 am #

    John:

    As always a thought-provoking, spot-on post!

    Regards,

    Bob

  3. Jim Burtt December 16, 2014 5:49 pm #

    Hi John,

    In my experience, the conflicting analysis frequently stems from dueling queries which interpret the facts differently. For example, most companies apply business rules which filter the universe of ‘won’ CRM opportunities as they define bookings. Until that definition is codified in their BI/reporting tools, users may employ different filters in manipulating opportunities to arrive at bookings.

    Another example involves dimensions. Geography is my favorite because there are so many proxies for geography. Three executives each ask their financial analyst to develop a report of revenue by geography for the previous two years. The Sales FA delivers revenue broken down by Sales Territory. The Finance FA produces a report showing revenue by Legal Entity. The Customer Support FA generates a report showing revenue by End Customer Location. The three VP’s get into an argument about how much revenue EMEA generated last year, and the meeting goes for naught.

    I agree with you that there is a single source of truth around facts and dimensions (and hierarchies). Definitions matter; care must be taken when designing business rules into systems; and users must be educated about definitions and trained how to design queries and reports.

    Best regards,

    Jim

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