I have a dream. My dream is that one day those overpaid nincompoops who run many of our companies and organisations wake up to the importance of data, and start working with it accordingly.
If you're not persuaded of the importance of data, try imagining your organisation functioning without data (or its cousin, information, which is usually rooted in data) and see how far you get. No e-mails, no internet, no customer orders, no invoices. No telephone calls, no meetings, no discussions with colleagues, not even to discuss the weather, unless you're one of the very few organisations which is not affected by the weather (really, you'd be surprised).
How long would that situation be able to last? Minutes?
Why can't people understand the importance of data and its quality? Why don't we treat it in the same way that we treat other parts of our business? The very idea of an airline only maintaining its fleet when something went wrong with it would horrify all of us, but that's what we do with data. Few of us do not realise how preventing tooth decay not only saves us costly treatment and potentially a great deal of pain, but leaves us with far better teeth than any dentists ministrations could produce on badly maintained teeth. (Read Jim Harris' blog post on that topic here.)
So why do we wait until the CEO is told that $ 1 billion PROFIT was made instead of the actual $1 billion LOSS, with the resultant chaos, before we take data seriously? Clearly, unmaintained airlines falling from the sky make a greater immediate impact than data quality wrecks, but the results can be equally pernicious. Why must so many people waste so many hours trying to prove return on investment (ROI), when ANY and ALL data quality improvements are beneficial - I am yet to be persuaded that there is no return on any investment (in one form or another) on every improvement of data quality. Sadly, most businesses make money DESPITE their data quality, not because of it. (See Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen's post showing how simple it can be to show ROI here).
I have a dream of a revolution in data quality, where resources and focus are built into the prevention of data quality problems, rather than on trying to resolve them only when their detrimental effect becomes obvious; where as much control is put into data as is put into production, maintenance, finance, human resources and other aspects of organisations.
I have a dream. How long must it remain a dream?