Bon Appetit

If I enjoy a restaurant meal it is basically unimportant to me what raw ingredients from where were used and which tools the chef used during preparing the meal. My concerns are whether the taste meet my expectations, the plate looks delicious in my eyes, the waiter seems nice and so on.

This is comparable to when we talk about information quality. The raw data quality and the tools available for exposing the data as tasty information in a given context is basically not important to the information consumer.

But in the daily work you and I may be the information chef. In that position we have to be very much concerned about the raw data quality and the tools available for what may be similar to rinsing, slicing, mixing and boiling food.

Let’s look at some analogies.

Best before

Fresh raw ingredients is similar to actualized raw data. Raw data also has a best before date depending on the nature of the data. Raw data older than that date may be spiced up but will eventually make bad tasting information.


Buying all your raw ingredients and tools for preparing food – or taking the shortcut with ready made cookie cutting stuff – from a huge supermarket is fast and easy (and then never mind the basket usually also is filled with a lot of other products not on the shopping list).

A good chef always selects the raw ingredients from the best specialized suppliers and uses what he consider the most professional tools in the preparing process.

Making information from raw data has the same options.


Governments around the world has for long time implemented regulations and inspection regarding food mainly focused at receiving, handling and storing raw ingredients.

The same is now going on regarding data. Regulations and inspections will naturally be directed at data as it is originated, stored and handled.


Have you ever tried to prepare your favorite national meal in a foreign country?

Many times this is not straightforward. Some raw ingredients are simply not available and even some tools may not be among the kitchen equipment.

When making information from raw data under varying international conditions you often face the same kind of challenges.

5 thoughts on “Bon Appetit

  1. Jim Harris 5th February 2010 / 01:17

    Bon Appetit?

    That’s French for “I am only hungry for Bon-Bons” – right?

    True story: I am gingerly typing this comment because I cut my finger “preparing” dinner – I somehow mentioned to break a dish while boiling water to make pasta. That’s what I get when I attempt to cook something closer to fresh than my usual microwavable meals.

    Although I like your analogies, I can’t truly relate to them.

    And I thought the chef from Sesame Street was Swedish…


    Another excellent post Henrik – Best Regards, Jim

  2. Steve Sarsfield 5th February 2010 / 02:28

    I enjoyed this post, Henrik. Makes you think about all this IT user/Business user stuff we’ve been touting. I wonder if most business users really care where the clean data comes from? They’re more concerned about it being tasty.

    Pass the ketchup.

  3. kenoconnordataconsultant 5th February 2010 / 13:45

    Super post Henrik,

    I love the analogies.

    I agree with Steve, most business users don’t care where the data comes from, nor should they have to.

    Business users assume, and they are entitled to assume, that the information presented to them, perhaps in a colourful, “sexy” Dashboard is based on clean, reliable data, and the information is timely, and fit for purpose.

    They are entitled to assume that “someone” is responsible for ensuring the above takes place – just as you are entitled to assume the chef in your favourite restaurant has selected good ingredients for the tasty meal in front of you.

    That “someone” is responsible for “Data Governance” within the organisation. Unfortunately too few organisations have a “Data Governance Someone” in place – or that “someone” has insufficient authority or budget to “get the basics right”.

    When the “Data Governance Someone” is missing, Information Business Users are left with a “bad taste in the mouth”. They know that “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark” (couldn’t resist that one Henrik). But they don’t have the option of leaving the restaurant – they have to use the information provided to them.

    Eventually, restaurants serving meals containing “bad ingredients” go out of business. Either the customers stop coming, or the regulator shuts them down.

    The exact same will happen to organisations that feed their business users information based on “bad data”.

    Rgds Ken

  4. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 5th February 2010 / 14:24

    Jim, sounds like you and the Swedish chef together will make the guys from Dumb and Dumber look pretty smart 🙂

    Steve, thanks. Ketchup, tasty? Reminds me of the American guests that were thrown out from a Paris restaurant after asking for ketchup 🙂

    Ken you are absolutely right. A common challenge is actually to find out who is the chef taking care of preparing data. Sometimes we have too many chefs in the kitchen and other times nobody cares about serving a decent meal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s