A Christmas Data Carol

Moving on from fairy tales, for this blog I’m moving into the realm of ghost stories and a topical tale it is too, for this is the story of a Christmas Data Carol…

 

Imagine if you will a CEO, a CFO or any senior executive that suits your imagination/company. For ease of narrative let’s call him Bill.  It's late at night on a cold day in December and the budgeting process for the next year is taking its toll. Pages upon pages of reports keep getting amended and resubmitted.  Bill (contrary to popular belief) is not a hater of Christmas, to the contrary in fact and he is sitting at his desk cursing his staff for producing such inaccurate reports that keep having to be reworked and amended as further errors surface, when in truth he would rather be at home getting ready for Christmas with his family.

As he throws the latest batch of reports up in the air in despair, the lights flicker and he hears the lift doors open in the lobby. Puzzled (as he believed himself to be totally alone in the office) he walks out to find no one there but the lift door standing open illuminating the lobby in an eerie glow....

Emerging out of the lift he sees coming towards him his co-founder of the company, who sadly passed away last year. The ghost is laden with reports and warns that the executive needs to make drastic changes before he too is condemned to an eternity of checking and correcting reports. He goes on to say that Bill will be visited that evening by three or possibly four (sorry the data isn’t quite clear on that point) ghosts and that he should be careful to take heed of what they show him. 

Bill is bewildered and rather shaken by the encounter and thinking that he really has been working too many hours recently, he goes back to his desk to pack up and head off home. But just as he switches off his pc the lights flicker once more and a ghostly figure enters his office.

The ghost introduces himself as the Ghost of Data Past and wants to show Bill how ungoverned and poorly maintained data has arisen in his company. The ghost takes Bill back to a time when a new customer system was installed, all was shiny and new and full of promise, but over the course of time things changed. Non-standard working practices by some teams, the same fields used for different purposes and a lack of Data Governance has meant that no-one now trusts the data on the CRM system and multiple spreadsheets have sprung up over the company as various teams prefer to hold their own records.

With a wave of his hand the Ghost of Data Past takes Bill back to his office and leaves him there as the realisation hits him that he and his fellow executives are using the data from CRM system to complete regulatory returns and make important decisions but it now turns out that it is not in fact correct.

While he is pondering this state of affairs, another ghostly apparition enters his office and introduces himself as the Ghost of Data Present. This spectre takes Bill and shows him the organisation’s recently appointed Data Governance Manager, Tim, affectionately known as Tiny Tim throughout the company (for some unknown reason). He watches as Tim attempts to progress the recently started Data Governance initiative and how time after time he is turned away by various Senior Managers who are unwilling to listen to his proposals for improving data management within the company. Finally he watches helplessly as crestfallen Tim, returns to his desk and starts to write a letter of resignation…

Bill tries to call out to Tim to stop him (he is after all a highly prized employee who was encouraged to take on this initiative because of his success with other high profile projects in the organisation), but Tim can’t hear him and Bill finds himself back in his office thumping his desk in frustration, as he recalls how he had promised to support Tim and promote the importance of data quality within the organisation but hadn’t yet found the time to do so.

While Bill sits regretting his lack of action, the Ghost of Data Yet To Come appears before him. Now you will recall that in Dickens classic tale, this spirit is a dark scary character, but in the data version of this tale the opposite is true. The Ghost of Data Yet To Come shows Bill that all is not lost for the Data Governance initiative and that it is still a shining opportunity for his company...

Now I’m sure that you can work out how this story ends, so all that is left for me to say is please be heartened by this tale. Your data past may have been dark and depressing but the future's, well the future is what you make of it. If you support Tiny Tim he won't resign and your Data Governance project won’t wither and die.

 Season’s greetings to all my readers. Thank you for reading my blogs and for your kind comments this year and in the words of Tiny Tim “God Bless Us Every One!”

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