Friday, 22 June 2012

Tools that get you going

You are the proud owner of a nice shiny new Jaguar. It was love at first site. It cost you a stupid amount of money. You had to beg your bank manager for it. But it glides effortlessly down the road. With satisfaction, you notice that everywhere you go, you draw admiring glances and the occasional jealous leer from all who see you. The Jag's advanced engine management and traction control keep it smooth and fast. It has all the latest gadgets to keep you safe, like parking sensors, reversing cameras and intelligent cruise control. Nestled in the opulent luxury, you are truly poetry in motion.

So when an obscure warning light appears on the dashboard and the engine starts misfiring, you take it to the garage. Modern cars are so complex these days with highly advanced engine management systems. Naturally you expect the mechanic to plug your pride and joy into the latest computer to diagnose the problem. Parts can be expensive, so you need to know that the diagnosis is correct.

I'm old enough to remember a time when car mechanics needed little more than a jack, some welding gear and a large array of screwdrivers and spanners! But cars have become far more complex over the years, and you would not expect modern fault diagnosis with a hammer!

Bill Gates famously said, "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that get 1,000 to the gallon."

While the unofficial reply was quite humorous, Bill was right about how quickly our information technology has advanced. Yet so many business leaders are loathed to invest in staff and tools for data quality and data management.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of valuing your IT infrastructure, and allocating whole departments to keep it up-to-date and running, while overlooking the value of the data. That is like spending all your  money on the roads, and leaving the car mechanics with nothing but spanners.

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