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The Small World of Data Quality

By: , Posted on: April 23, 2014

Executing Data Quality Projects Cover

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “It’s a Small World” made famous by the Disney song of the same name. We hear it often enough that it feels trite.  But there are some occasions when the truthfulness of a well-worn expression hits home and reminds me of the real meaning behind it.

I have taught and presented internationally about data quality over the years, but always in English and to audiences where English was well understood. I am eager to discuss information quality any time, but was particularly looking forward to my first trip to Brazil a few years ago. As one of three invited international speakers (along with Rich Wang and Yang Li), we were to present at one of the early conferences of QIBRAS (Quality Information Brasil, What was different about this trip was the fact that I would present in English to a few hundred non-English speaking attendees who would hear my words through their headsets with simultaneous translation into Portuguese. While I had presented through simultaneous translation years before in China, it was a smaller group, different subject, and a more intimate setting. The two days after the conference I was scheduled to teach my Ten Steps to Data Quality course to another non-English speaking audience.

I believed in what I was teaching, but was unsure how it would translate cross-culturally. Yet as I was teaching, the questions and issues that came up were familiar ones. My concerns eased as I saw that the core concerns of data quality transcended language, culture, and country. It was exciting to realize that no matter the background of those I was working with, the things I was bringing to the plate were fundamental, and could be applied to situations everywhere throughout the world. Data-quality became, in my mind, a unifying force. Brazil taught me that.

Since Brazil I’ve presented in many countries, some with translation into other languages. I like to joke that data quality people will be the ones that bring peace to the world because we all speak the same language—data quality. The need for high quality information and the impact of poor quality data has been evident everywhere I go. I have made many friends and acquaintances abroad, and have gained an appreciation for the depth and unity of the international data quality community. It truly is a small world.

About the Author

Danette McGilvary

Danette McGilvray is President and Principal of Granite Falls Consulting, Inc., a firm that helps organizations increase their success by addressing the information quality and data governance aspect of their business efforts. She can be contacted at

She is the author of Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™.  An internationally respected expert, Danette’s Ten Steps™ approach to information quality has been embraced as a proven method for both understanding and creating information and data quality in the enterprise. A Chinese-language edition is also available and her book is used as a textbook in university graduate programs.

Computer Science

Computing functionality is ubiquitous. Today this logic is built into almost any machine you can think of, from home electronics and appliances to motor vehicles, and it governs the infrastructures we depend on daily — telecommunication, public utilities, transportation. Maintaining it all and driving it forward are professionals and researchers in computer science, across disciplines including:

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