Data Quality and World Food

I have touched the analogy between food (quality) and data (quality) several times before for example in the posts “Bon Appétit” and “Under New Master Data Management”.

Why not continue down that road?

Let’s have a look at some local food that has become popular around the world.


Imagine you go to a restaurant where you order a fish dish. When starting to consume your dinner you realize that the fish hasn’t been boiled, fried or in any other way exposed to heat. Then I guess it is perfectly normal to shout out: THE FISH IS RAW – and demanding apologies from the chef, the head waiter, Gordon Ramsey or anyone else in charge. Unless of course if you are in a sushi restaurant where the famous Japanese dish that may include raw fish is prepared.


Köttbullar is the Swedish word for meatballs. This had rightfully stayed as a fact only known to Swedes if it wasn’t for cheap furniture sold around the world by IKEA. By reasons still unclear to me IKEA has chosen to serve Köttbullar in the store cafeterias and even sell the stuff along with the particle board furniture on their e-commerce sites.


Italian originated dish usually brought to you by someone on a bike or in extreme cases in a very old car.


Selling food of different kind in the form as a burger works in the United States – and by reasons that I can’t explain even in France.

Data Quality analogies

Well, let’s just say that data quality tools and services:

  • May be regarded very different around the world,
  • Usually are sold along with tools and services made for something completely different,
  • Are brought to you in various ways by local vendors and
  • By reasons I can’t explain often are made for use in the United States (no other pun intended but pure admiration of execution).

Bon appétit.

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8 thoughts on “Data Quality and World Food

  1. Jim Harris 27th April 2010 / 14:37

    Debuting this fall on the new Data and Food Diversity Network:

    “Liliendahl’s Data and Food Quality Nightmares”

    In each episode, data quality expert/food critic Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen will meet with a data quality client in a local restaurant and compare the client’s poor data quality to the poor food quality of the menu items from the daily specials.

    Check your local listings.


  2. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 27th April 2010 / 16:32

    Thanks Jim. After that I guess Gordon Ramsey will look like a nice, calm, tolerant gentleman.

  3. Crysta Anderson 27th April 2010 / 17:20

    What about some of the “world food” categories that don’t translate so well? While the ones you mention – pizza, Chinese, Ikea meatballs – can be found relatively globally, others don’t ever venture very far beyond their national boundaries. Mexican food is hugely popular in the US (helped by a large immigrant population), but when I lived in Budapest, we couldn’t find it – we had to drive to Vienna for a halfway decent taco.

    Can the same be said for data quality tools? Do some work better in/near their native lands but don’t translate elsewhere?

    I may be overthinking this. And it’s lunchtime.

  4. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 27th April 2010 / 17:36

    Thanks Crysta. I think you are absolutely right. I have seen lots of data quality tools and services that make wonders with data from its home country but are more ordinary or sometimes useless with foreign data. That is certainly not only the case with US based tools and services, only they are very dominating.

    Hope you are able to pick up a decent taco for lunch in Windy City.

  5. Per Olsson 28th April 2010 / 16:17

    Mmm…Love köttbullar 🙂

    Data quality explained with food, couldnt be better

  6. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 29th April 2010 / 11:05

    Thanks for commenting Per. No surprise that a Swede is crazy about köttbullar.

    And your comment also made me realize that I originally spelled köttbullar wrong – some kind of strange hybrid between the Danish word “Kødboller” and Swedish “Köttbullar” which came out as a new common Scandinavian word “Kötbollar”.

    Related to data quality such strange wording is actually not uncommon when shared service centers are dealing with data from several countries – I have seen that in data from all-Scandinavian companies.

  7. Sergey Kazachenko 12th July 2012 / 12:29

    One of my friends once blogged “We went to IKEA. What a wonderful experience! They serve great meatballs with lingonberry jam! Even the kids loved it! I just don’t understand why do they have that big warehouse full of cheap furniture around the great restaurant”

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 12th July 2012 / 12:48

      Good one Sergey. When I’m dragged to IKEA I actually prefer being left in the restaurant with the free WiFi, so my WiFe can inspect every single piece of furniture, arts and craft.

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