Much of enterprise software is often viewed as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product, which, in theory, is supposed to provide significant advantages over bespoke, in-house solutions. In this blog post, I want to discuss your expectations about the out-of-box-experience (OOBE) provided by data quality (DQ) software, or as I prefer to phrase this question:
OOBE-DQ, Where Are You?
Common DQ Software Features
There are many DQ software vendors to choose from and all of them offer viable solutions driven by impressive technology. Many of these vendors have very similar approaches to DQ, and therefore provide similar technology with common features, including the following (Please Note: some vendors have a suite of related products collectively providing these features):
- Data Profiling
- Data Quality Assessment
- Data Standardization
- Data Matching
- Data Consolidation
- Data Integration
- Data Quality Monitoring
A common aspect of OOBE-DQ is the “ease of use” vs. “powerful functionality” debate—ignoring the Magic Beans phenomenon, where the Machiavellian salesperson guarantees you their software is both remarkably easy to use and incredibly powerful.
So just how easy is your Ease of Use?
“Ease of use” can be difficult to qualify since it needs to take into account several aspects:
— Installation and configuration
— Integration within a suite of related products (or connectivity to other products)
— Intuitiveness of the user interface(s)
— Documentation and context sensitive help screens
— Ability to effectively support a multiple user environment
— Whether performed tasks are aligned with different types of users
There are obviously other aspects, some of which may vary depending on your DQ initiative, your specific industry, or your organizational structure. However, the bottom line is hopefully the DQ software doesn't require your users to be as smart as Brainiac (pictured above) in order to be able to figure out how to use it, both effectively and efficiently.
Ease of use is obviously a very important aspect of OOBE-DQ. However, as Duke Ellington taught us, it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing—in order words, if it's easy to use but can't do anything, what good is it? Therefore, powerful functionality is also important.
“Powerful functionality” can be rather subjective, but probably needs to at least include these aspects:
— Fast processing speed
— Scalable architecture
— Batch and near real-time execution modes
— Pre-built functionality for common tasks
— Customizable and reusable components
Once again, there are obviously other aspects, especially depending on the specifics of your situation. However, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of DQ functionality is how it helps (as pictured above) enable Zan (i.e., technical stakeholders) and Jayna (i.e., business stakeholders) to activate their most important power—collaboration. And of course, sometimes even the Wonder Twins needed the help of their pet space monkey Gleek (i.e., data quality consultants).
OOBE-DQ, Where Are You?
Where are you in the OOBE-DQ debate? In other words, what are your expectations when evaluating the out-of-box-experience (OOBE) provided by data quality (DQ) software?
Where do you stand in the “ease of use” vs. “powerful functionality” debate?
Are there situations where the prioritization of ease of use makes a lack of robust functionality more acceptable?
Are there situations where the prioritization of powerful functionality makes a required expertise more acceptable?
Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below.