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Data Management - Elephant & Seven Blind Men

I am sure most of you read a story of Elephant and Seven Blind Men. For starters - this is how the story goes -

"A number of blind men came to an elephant. Somebody told them that it was an elephant. The blind men asked, ‘What is the elephant like?’ and they began to touch its body. One of them said: 'It is like a pillar.' This blind man had only touched its leg. Another man said, ‘The elephant is like a husking basket.’ This person had only touched its ears. Similarly, he who touched its trunk or its belly talked of it differently."

As Wikipedia mentions - This story has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies. At various times it has provided insight into the relativism, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behavior of experts in fields where there is a deficit or inaccessibility of information, the need for communication, and respect for different perspectives.

The moral of the story is - While one's subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth.

As this is true in every experience that we get in life - personal or professional, its more true in the domain that we all work and discuss on this blog - Data Management. The all main players in this world - Consulting companies, customer business units and the product companies - most of these behave like a blind men in the story. Everybody talks about data management, data governance, master data, intelligence and dashboard everyday. But the perspectives are different - looking at big picture is most of the time missing.

When people talk about Data Management, you invariably hear following things - 

1. Master Data Management - How do I manage different master data in my company - Products, Suppliers, Customers ?
2. Data Quality - How do I maintain the quality of data - De-duplication, cleansing, normalizing ?
3. Data Governance - In this big system landscape, how do I govern the source, process and target systems and flow. How do i ensure sustainable and more consistent processes ?
4. Tools and Technologies - With so many vendors, ERP systems, BI systems in place - how do I choose the long term ETL soultions ? How do I architect my  landscape for maximum benefits ?
5. Intelligence - The output of all my efforts is to get the efficiency in the process, optimize my systems - data and then garner intelligence to execute. Is MDM right solution, Spend Intelligence ? Multiple BI dashboards - or there is one stop solution for everything ?
6. Do I need to invest in different Datawarehousing investment to get data initiative benefit or my existing ERP will work ?
7. Should I start with my data initiative before looking at supply chain initiatives like Advanced Planning & Optimization implementation?

I am sure you may have your own experiences.

So What I am going to do here is - posting series of articles here, covering different perspectives from customer, consultants, software vendors etc.

Watch this place, and also let me know your suggestions which I should include here -

Prashant Mendki
pmendki (at) gmail (dot) com
Twitter - @pmendki


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