Out of Facebook

Some while ago it was announced that Facebook signed up member number 500,000,000.

If you are working with customer data management you will know that this doesn’t mean that 500,000,000 distinct individuals are using Facebook. Like any customer table the Facebook member table will suffer from a number of different data quality issues like:

  • Some individuals are signed up more than once using different profiles.
  • Some profiles are not an individual person, but a company or other form of establishment.
  • Some individuals who created a profile are not among us anymore.

Nevertheless the Facebook member table is a formidable collection of external reference data representing the real world objects that many companies are trying to master when doing business-2- consumer activities.

For those companies who are doing business-2-business activities a similar representation of real world objects will be the +70,000,000 profiles on LinkedIn plus profiles in other social business networks around the world which may act as external reference data for the business contacts in the master data hubs, CRM systems and so on.

Customer Master Data sources will expand to embrace:

  • Traditional data entry from field work like a sales representative entering prospect and customer master data as part of Sales Force Automation.
  • Data feed and data integration with traditional external reference data like using a business directory. Such integration will increasingly take place in the cloud and the trend of governments releasing public sector data will add tremendously to this activity.
  • Self registration by prospects and customers via webforms.
  • Social media master data captured during social CRM and probably harvested in more and more structured ways as a new wave of exploiting external reference data.

Doing “Social Master Data Management” will become an integrated part of customer master data management offering both opportunities for approaching a “single version of the truth” and some challenges in doing so.

Of course privacy is a big issue. Norms vary between countries, so do the legal rules. Norms vary between individuals and by the individuals as a private person and a business contact. Norms vary between industries and from company to company.

But the fact that 500,000,000 profiles has been created on Facebook in a very few years by people from all over world shows that people are willing to share and that much information can be collected in the cloud. However no one wants to be spammed by sharing and indeed there have been some controversies around how data in Facebook is handled. 

Anyway I have no doubt that we will see less data entering clerks entering the same information in each company’s separate customer tables and that we increasingly will share our own master data attributes in the cloud.

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7 thoughts on “Out of Facebook

  1. James Standen 1st September 2010 / 13:38

    Another data quality issue in Facebooks table perhaps not as prevalent in enterprise data is that many profiles belong to cats.

    Facebook is constantly suggesting that I befriend someones cat, and it is getting tiresome.

    We need a matching algorithm that cross references interests (eating cat food, scratching sofas, chasing mice) perhaps with image recognition for excessive facial hair to try to get a test for likely cat records.

    The data quality work is never done.

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 1st September 2010 / 13:50

      Thanks James. But take care. Cats are important. Try to put one in a bin and see what happens here .

      • James Standen 1st September 2010 / 13:54

        Yes. For the record, I’m not advocating doing anything to the cats on Facebook. Cats have every right to access social media.

  2. Jim Harris 1st September 2010 / 14:32

    Great post, Henrik.

    Yes, whenever I hear the 500 million members quoted, I often wonder how many duplicate Faces are on Facebook, and I also wonder about the duplicate profiles on LinkedIn — I have a few friends who (for some unknown reason) create a new LinkedIn profile everytime they get a new job (and some of them are data quality professionals). And I will refrain from going all Statler and Waldorf again about duplicate Twitter profiles 🙂

    I agree that we will (and we must) see less data entering clerks entering the same information in each company’s separate customer tables and that we increasingly will share (and manage) our own master data attributes in the cloud.

    Best Regards,


    P.S. As for the cats, they are in the computers as well as on Facebook: OH HI i come from internet

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 1st September 2010 / 15:05

      Jim, thanks a lot for adding in. Data, data (and cats) everywhere 🙂

  3. Steve Sarsfield 1st September 2010 / 15:32

    On a similar note, veterinary data is actually quite interesting to profile, from what I’ve heard. Consider the concept of customer at a vet, where the customers are both the “parents” and the pet. An out of the box CRM solution may not have thought through this all. You end up getting records like “Jack and Diane Smith and Rusty” for name.
    We’ll never run out of work.

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 1st September 2010 / 15:45

      Steve, true. I also remember working with named teddy bears parented by children who is parented by parents.

      Thanks for sharing optimism for the data quality profession.

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