Fixing a World Of Broken Data
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There are a lot of things that categorize me as a nerd. Let me be the first to add another to that list: I love photography. Having only picked up a camera (properly) 4 years ago, I am anything but a professional. It would be a stretch to even say that I am any good. I am ok with that. The reason why I became so enthralled with this activity had nothing to do with creativity. It was because of how technical I found it. As a former software developer, the concept of tweaking parameters incrementally to achieve a desired result resonated with me.
Like many over-enthusastic newbies, I rushed out and got some top of the line gear. I came home armed with a great camera, a range of high-end lenses, data storage units, packs, tripods and everything else you could name. Only then did I decide to find somebody to show me how to actually use it. There was no way that I was going to be like the majority of people and use an automatic setting. However, like the majority of people, once I found my style I only really utilized 10% of the available functionality.
Then a crazy thing happened: Instagram. Now, under no circumstances, am I going to argue that an Instagram picture compares in any way to a well crafted high shot from a high end camera. However, it did change my thinking. It made me realize that the value of photography is not the actual photograph but the experience created by sharing that picture. The interesting thing is that over 100 million people agree with me.
I am sure that you can see where I am going with this. The enterprise software industry on a whole (and specifically software related to data management) is very much like the high-end camera market. Companies buy bloated systems that are more expensive than they need or can afford. Then companies opt-in for all the add-ons that will never get used. All the while they spend an obscene amount more money getting the system set up and learning how to use it. At the end of the day, the company ends up using just a small amount of the functionality they purchase. More importantly, you need to remember that we are only talking about the top percentage of companies that can even afford these solutions. Everyone else is out of luck.
Funny enough, this “overspend” is not what I have the biggest issue with. My issue is that we are looking at things the wrong way.
It is 2013. I am equipped with a device in my hand that is supposed to get me any information I need, whenever I need it. Yet why am I still struggling to find out if I am allergic to this ice cream, if my friend’s pregnant wife is able to eat a specific cheese, what this beverage producer has committed to donate back to the environment, which of my friends like this brand of tennis rackets, what people are saying about these shoes on twitter. All of these things make a different at the moment of purchase decision. I know all the data is out there but why can’t we just bring it all together. What good is all of this data if it never makes it out to the world to enhance experience?
“We need to stop spending so much time focusing on the foundational data and more time focusing on how that data can be shared”
As a whole, we need to stop spending so much time focusing on the foundational data and more time focusing on how that data can be shared and ultimately used. Companies today are paralyzed by data management…so much so that it becomes a tactical loop of endless taxonomies, data quality audits and data governance. All of that is important but the data is of no use to anyone stuck in the deepest regions of an MDM solution without seeing the light of day.
We started Hubba as a team of enterprise software and system integration experts. We were not MDM people. We came in with fresh eyes. This problem of liberating data became glaringly obvious as did the reasons why this problem exists:
1) With so much data and content being produced across so many different channels, it is almost impossible to pull everything together into a single source of truth.
2) Even if you were able to pull it into a single source of truth, the amount of different targets in your supply chain that need this data is overwhelming (and growing all the time).
3) Even if you were able to get all the right data out to those targets, you have no control or visibility into how that data is being used.
Many big companies have developed behemoth systems to try to tackle all of the intricacies of data. At Hubba, we just focused on fixing these three. You have all of this great data, you just need the tools to set it free.