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Data quality sizzle

I'm an engineer. Being an engineer, I'm pretty product focused, pretty technology focused, and pretty "does it work or not" focused.

Having technical things like tools work is useful, and good. But just because you build it, does not mean they will come.

The challenge often in Data Quality is that often what has to change even more than the technology or tools is the behaviours and perspectives of the people in the organisation with data quality issues. At the very least, the users have to use the tools. Very few data quality solutions are of the "full autopilot" bad-data-goes-in-here-good-comes-out-here type.

As much as we engineers would like to solve everything with software, people are involved in Data Quality.

While a fantastic bit of data profiling analysis or an elegant and powerful data transform would seem to be enough, the truth is sometimes how and when you present these things is key to getting the non-engineer people to buy in.

Sometimes preparing people over time, and introducing things in a step by step way helps them understand, and makes the technology and the change required less daunting.

Because I'm looking out my window at a tentative (very tentative it's only March after all) spring day here in Toronto, I'm going to use a summer barbecue analogy.

The tools and technology are the steak. The steak is key to the party. In the end (at least for me in this analogy) the steak delivers most of the value in your summer BBQ party value proposition, but you'll have more guests and be more successful over all if you package the whole.

Sometimes, part of selling the steak is the sizzle, the preparation, the things around the steak.

It's the smell of the BBQ getting ready, it's the sound of the steak hitting the grill- its the cold drink, the conversation, the games on the lawn for the kids.

In the end, even if you know that 90% of the deal was that steak, if you just put a steak on a plate and give it to each guest the moment they arrive, its just not going to get the same response.

In my usual round about way the point I'm trying to get to is that you can't solve technical problems, then drop them on people desks and say "do it". You need to invite them to the party. Prepare them for the menu, ask preferences, give them some time to hear the sizzle, smell the charcoal, enjoy the sunshine in expectation of that steak.

Steak is good. Remember to plan some sizzle too.

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