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Alec Dutcher
Alec Dutcher

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Book Report: Navigating the Labyrinth Ch. 2

Navigating the Labyrinth: An Executive Guide to Data Management by Laura Sebastian-Coleman

Chapter 2 - Data Management Challenges

Chapter Summary

In this chapter, Sebastian-Coleman details how data's unique characteristics as an asset present risks challenges for managing it. She explains the risks - operational, ethical, and financial - of poor data management. She also explains the data lifecycle and advises managing data throughout this lifecycle to mitigate the risks.

Points of Interest

  • Poor data quality can cost trillions of dollars, according to some estimates.

  • "...[T]here are costs at all points in the data lifecycle, but value is created only when data is used."

  • Don't be afraid of metadata. It is important, useful, and managing it can be a good first step to better management of the complete data lifecycle.

  • Viewing data as a product that is created or purchased encourages better decision making surrounding it.


This chapter feels a bit like the rising tension in an inspiring speech. That classic "This isn't going to be easy and we're going to have to fight for it, but it will all be worth it if we make it through" feeling. Good data management isn't easy. There is no shortage of challenges and risks, but if done properly it can unlock a world of possibilities for a business. The cost/benefit can be difficult to calculate, but in general it shakes out in favor of the data.

The quote above about data having value when it is used really stood out to me, even though it is a footnote that is a summary of a point made in a separate work Executing the Data Quality Project: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information by Danette McGilvray. I'm adding this one to the reading list, particularly with an updated version having been released this year. The point definitely stands. You can spend as many resources as you want managing the data, but if you aren't actually using it to drive improvement in the business then it's a waste.

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