My Name is David and this year I turned…um, well, let’s just say that I’m a little older than most of the other boys writing to you. I think you’ll find that I’ve been pretty good for the most part, so I’m hoping that you’ll at least hear me out on this.
I’ve worked really, really hard for a lot of years now designing, developing, and delivering data warehouses and business intelligence solutions. All along the way, I’ve made sure that I am doing more than just building stuff; I am creating business value.
Now, you yourself have obviously got the North Pole IT Shop working really well. I mean, seriously, you keep track of how many millions of kids? The sheer number of disparate data sources that you have to integrate, how many are we talking about here? Hundreds, thousands? Unbelievable. And I’ve never heard anything bad about your shop in a trade mag, news website, or blog, from either a data quality perspective or for your fulfillment capability. Your IT accomplishments must be absolutely stunning to behold, and the value that you bring to the world is tremendous. All of which brings me to the reason that I’m writing you. I’m really starting to think this whole “Single Version of the Truth” stuff is just a pipe dream, yet I feel in my heart that you may have actually done it, so I’m hoping you can ease my mind.
Given your obvious IT successes, I have to assume that you’ve not only successfully implemented a master data management strategy (or perhaps even a full-blown Information-Oriented Architecture), but I’m guessing that you’ve achieved that “Holy Grail of Data”, the “Golden Customer Record”, the “Single Version of the Truth”. How else to you explain your success? It’s crazy, I know, but I BELIEVE.
I have to admit that it’s been pretty hard lately to keep the faith, to keep believing that Truth can be created in a single place for everyone to use. My doubts started creeping in a couple of months ago when I read a blog post by Robin Bloor titled Is There a Single Version of the Truth in which he was seemingly trying to crush my belief. I didn’t want to listen to what he was trying to teach me, but he was making a pretty compelling case. He was getting all philosophical and even brought Plato into the conversation. Plato, for crying out loud! Like he would know anything about Truth. I stuck my fingers in my ears “LA, LA, LA, LA, LA”.
Then I stumbled upon a rather entertaining multi-part story told by Jim Harris called The Quest for the Golden Copy in which he suggests a compromise perspective, pushing us towards a “highest common denominator” set of customer data to be “used by the business units as an objective data foundation.” So now my acid reflux is kicking in and I’m starting to squirm. “Compromise”, he said. That’s a good thing sometimes, right?
Finally, I read a really short article by David Loshin titled The Myth of the “Golden Record” in which he describes the false expectations of those implementing MDM, as well as the data quality and semantic hurdles of trying to get to the “Golden Record”. Now, Mr. Loshin knows a thing or two about both data quality and master data management, so when he says “Relying on the creation of a golden record may not necessarily provide the value expected”, I more or less have to pay attention, even if it’s not what I want to hear. In fact, I greatly respect all three of these gentlemen so it’s virtually impossible for me to continue to keep my fingers in my ears on this.
So, now I find myself in a dark place, surrounded by thoughts of having to concede the point that a Single Version of the Truth, though technically possible, is not really a practical goal in many (most?) situations. My belief system is being assaulted by logic.
Anyway… Long story short. Here’s where I am hoping you’ll help me out. Since you appear to have been quite successful at this, I’d like to invite you to speak at my local user group meeting about how you achieved the vaunted “Single Version of the Truth” in your IT shop. I’m fairly confident that I can get someone to sponsor the event to cover your expenses. I realize that you’ve been working real hard and have earned a serious vacation on a beach somewhere, but I can’t tell you how much I and all the rest of the Truth Believers would appreciate you dropping by and giving us the benefit of your wisdom and experience.
P.S. – If you really can’t find the time (and I guess I’d understand if you couldn’t), maybe you could send me a copy of your MDM strategy document instead, along with the canonical model. That would be sweet too! I won’t share it with anyone. Pinky-Swear!
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