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Lessons from a 13-month-old about master data management

November 13 2020
| 3 minute read

How memories of the joys of parenting remind us of the importance of implementing data governance to achieving business success

I recently had the joy of looking after my brother’s 13-month-old lad for the night, which took me back. I’ve two daughters, the youngest is seven. Fatigue had largely wiped my mind of the finer details of looking after little ones. But it all came screaming back when my nephew awoke at 3:30 am and wouldn’t settle again until an hour later.

But before this, we spent the day playing and having a whale of a time.

His little laugh is infectious. Especially when you chase him as he army crawls away as quick as his little legs allow, knowing full well you’re in hot pursuit. He also makes an adorable babbling sound when he wants your attention that makes you want to eat him up. 

Speaking of which, he particularly enjoyed his meatballs and spaghetti, even if much of it ended up on the floor.

Only twice were quick reflexes called upon as he tried to roll off the bed and dive from the couch.

Given we were 6 years out of practice, he completely wore us out. But we survived and had lots of fun.

I must admit, while it was wonderful being able to pass him back the following day, the joys of our one-night early parenting flashback left me feeling a little nostalgic for time spent raising and playing with our girls.

It does pain me to say that some of those memories have faded into my sub-consciousness. While the nuances that made it such a wonderful time and connect to the timeline of their upbringing are still there, they now come forward only when prompted by sensory triggers like sights, smells and sounds.

Which reminded me, this is much the same for your company’s critical data.


Rescuing valuable data from the enterprise “kitchen drawer”

Just as with what one day might become treasured but nearly forgotten personal memories, businesses constantly take in enormous volumes of data. The ultimate value – the reason it is being stored – is often undetermined. Yet, it’s collected anyway, often saved in what you might call the business equivalent of the back of a kitchen drawer. Only to be called upon on rare occasions when your data scientists decide to dust it off for spot initiatives.

It's at times like these you may find yourself unlocking the value that had been hidden away in your disorganized kitchen drawer of enterprise data. Value that until now has not been extracted to provide actionable insight, inform strategic business decisions, drive innovation or support business growth. Kind of like how I didn’t know I was missing so many details from years gone by until a 13-month-old landed in my living room.

Given how tired I am now that he’s gone, I’m liable to forget about this all over again. But this needn’t be the same for you and your company’s valuable data assets. You see, while my memories rely on my ability to retain and recall on a whim, your business has the advantage of technology and a support team to keep your memories accessible, organized, up-to-date and ready for action.


Ensure accuracy, availability and transparency with master data management

While what each of us retains in our memory for immediate reference can often seem beyond our control, with sound data governance and management practices, you can apply logic to the kinds of data assets your organization keeps at hand. This will make sure it is available and fit for purpose, ready to give your organization a variety of data driven advantages. It will also serve you well to keep a few key points in mind:

  • Collect only what you need to align your data strategy with the business'.
  • Store only where it’s accessible. Hint: Excel is not a master data management tool. Silos don't work well, either.
  • Technology is only an enabler. Seek and hire data minds brighter than your own.
  • Find and enlist the support of data advocates across the business. Individuals who champion and support your data initiatives, and who reside outside of your inner circle of data experts. 

I’m quite a nostalgic person and I cherish the memories I have. This often causes me to grieve those I’ve lost. For memories give our lives substance and meaning.

Likewise, data is a memory imprint that gives your business substance and meaning. The more you can draw upon it, the richer your connection and engagement with customers and other parties in your business ecosystem.

A 13-month-old can clearly teach us a lot. My memory of walking into a room to a smell that assaulted my senses (and demanded an emergency nappy change) can attest to that. There’s a lesson in that, too.

Don’t let your data stink up the room. 

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To find out more about putting a foundation in place to govern how your organization manages and extracts value from enterprise data through master data management, visit stibosystems.com.

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For two decades I’ve helped businesses find solutions to a variety of challenges. Today those challenges focus on how to extract value from your master data.

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