As a child, I was fascinated by the concept of an atomic clock. It was precise and invariant - time could be absolutely measured against it. As an adult, I have often encountered business leaders who would like to measure their customer data against some absolute standard comparable to an atomic clock in its unvarying precision. These business leaders know that establishing clear data quality metrics and regular scorecard reporting will drive improvements in any customer data initiative. But there is no absolute standard for data quality, so how can you create appropriate metrics? What, in short, are you measuring relative to?

In the absence of the data quality equivalent of an atomic clock, there are three categories of relative-to metrics:

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