In the 20+ years I’ve worked in the data profession, it often feels like a scene from the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. We ask the same questions over and over. I keep seeing two big recurring questions asked repeatedly 1. First, “Do I believe the data?”. Second, if the data can be believed, “How is this data adding value?”
Despite the increased visibility and importance of data (sexiest jobs of the century and all), along with improvements in technology and practices, it seems we’ve made very little progress in these two areas. I’ll first unpack each of these questions, then discuss what I think can be done to make data more believable and valuable. Especially given the current economic malaise, these two issues are growing more top of mind every day for me.
As my good friend Bill Inmon (the father of the data warehouse) once told me, throughout his very long and legendary career, his true north has always been “believable data.” The simplicity of this true north hit home for me. It cuts to the heart of what we’re trying to do as a profession. Belief means you accept something as true, and believable data means the data gives you the confidence to take action. Ask yourself if you have believable data. Would you bet your job on it?