I recently wrote an article discussing the difficulties in putting together a sound business case to support a data quality program. Following on from that article I would like to touch on the issue of who actually makes decisions regarding such initiatives.
Firstly let me make it clear that I am using a very broad brush here.
I don’t have statistics to hand but I would hazzard a guess that a good proportion of business leaders are from a sales background. This is quite natural I think. Without sales you don’t have a business. Good sales people in my experience tend to be confident, outward going and dare I say a little pushy. Combined with sound judgement, good qualities for leading a business. But by their very nature they are outward looking. Interested in the new. New sales. New contacts. New leads. New opportunities. New business. Clinch the deal and move on.
Data quality initiatives on the other hand are addressing something that already exists in the business. They are introspective. Not particularly interesting, exciting or sexy (to a sales person at least). And perhaps there lies the problem. How do you convince an outwardly looking business leader to invest in an inwardly focussed program at the expense of some other more exciting prospect?
I read alot of stuff from vendors of data cleansing products who claim to be able to show a clear ROI as a result of using their products. You can’t post a comment anywhere without someone jumping in and telling everyone how good their product is. And I also see alot of stuff from data quality practitioners who have problems getting their data quality program off the ground. If a sound financial argument was all it took then surely there would be no problem would there Mr Vendor? It would be a “no brainer”. Your services would sell themselves. Yet clearly there is a problem in getting traction for a data quality initiative.
Which brings me back to my previous post. A good financial business case is a worthy goal and one that every data quality practitioner should strive to produce. But don’t expect a “black and white” argument to always win the day. Life, business and people are not that simple.
Much as we would like them to be.