AUG 16, 2011 9:53am ET

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A Farscape Analogy for Data Quality


Farscape” was one of my all-time favorite science fiction television shows. In the weird way my mind works, the recent blog post (which has received great comments) "Four Steps to Fixing Your Bad Data" by Tom Redman, triggered a “Farscape” analogy.

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Comments (5)
The proposition of defining data as an asset is interesting, amusing and entertaining but of little value to a business. Organizations have been collecting files for longer than they have been collecting data yet no one ever suggested that files were an asset. Taking this to the ultimate extreme why not define business plans, reports, forms, e-mails, phone calls, photocopies of documents as assets? Of what value will this be to the business? Will it increase revenues, reduce costs, create new products? Once you've assigned value to data, what do you do with this asset? Sell it, rate it, trade it and continually value it into perpetuity? The proposition of data as an asset is a distraction. More time wasted trying to determine the value of data than spent managing the data. I suggest leaving the data as an asset hypothesis to philosophers and focus on managing the data. Let's all accept that data is important to the business and manage it better.

Perhaps the time would be better spent assessing the asset value of customers.

We've passed beyond the "information age". We are now in the "Algorithm Age". Data is nothing more than fodder for algorithms. The focus of today's business is on algorithms. Our entire economy is run by algorithms. Algorithms are an asset! I suggest data asset values pale in comparison to the asset value of algorithms. Just ask Google. They have patents on their algorithms as do numerous other companies. Those patents are worth billions. Just ask Nathan Myhrvold!

Posted by Richard O | Wednesday, August 17 2011 at 3:06PM ET
I find using the information as an 'asset' a good analogy when dealing with clients. The information a company collects is as much an asset to the company as a building - it cost money to create, it needs maintenance/updating as time goes on, it has to be locked away/protected, it is necessary for the company to do it's business and it should have individuals dedicated to those processes that manage the data. Having said that I think your concept of algorithms is valid as well - just as a business process has value to a company (Starbucks brewing individual cups of coffee vs a bit pot in the morning) so do the programs and applications and business rules that company creates and uses. I find the asset analogy helps the manager explain why he/she needs the money and time to 'manage' that asset when explaining their budget requirements - without that money the data isn't managed (as is the case in most companies I've been in).
Posted by David D | Wednesday, August 17 2011 at 4:03PM ET
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