Data architecture describes the structure of data used by a business and its applications by mapping the data artifacts to data qualities, applications, locations etc.
2000 years ago the roman writer, architect and engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio wrote that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas — that is, it must be strong or durable, useful, and beautiful.
I have worked with data quality for many years and always been a bit disappointed about the lack of (at)traction that has been around data quality issues. Perhaps the lack of attraction is due to that we focus so much on strength, durability and usefulness and too little about beauty – or at least attractiveness.
But how do the three qualities apply to data quality?
- Firmitas, strength and durability, is connected to technology and how we tend to make our data be as close to reflecting real world objects as possible in terms as uniqueness, completeness, timeliness, validity, accuracy and consistency.
- Utilitas, usefulness, is connected to how we use data as information in business processes. Often “fit for purpose” is stated as a goal for data quality improvement – which makes it hard when multiple purposes exist in an organization.
- Venustas – beauty or attractiveness – is connected to the mindset of people. Often we blame poor data quality on the people putting data into the data stores and direct initiatives that way using a whip called data governance. But probably we will get more attraction from people if we make or show quality data more attractive.
If you consider yourself a data quality professional – being a tool maker, expert, whatever – you got to get up from the sewers and make and show some attractive data in the halls of the fine buildings. You know how hard it is to make quality data – but do tell about the success stories.