Blog post

The Myopia of Single Version of the Truth

By Andrew White | December 08, 2015 | 0 Comments

MDMMaster Data ManagementEnterprise Metadata Management


“All singing from the same hymn sheet.”  That old, now possibly politically incorrect saying, is well known by other more descriptive tag lines. You all know, ‘single version of the truth’.  And even if we say that, we don’t actually mean it exactly.

In years gone by we would mean it: single canonical enterprise-wide data model, and compliance of all.  In those days single-version meant one version.  With new innovative business practices like master data management and specifically enterprise metadata management, the term has seen the benefit of an upgrade.

Now, ‘single version of the truth’ actually means ‘any number of versions of the truth, as long as we can sustain a reference to each version’.  In other words, single version has given way to many views of the same truth.  But is better, or best?  I wonder.

I saw an advert in my weekly Economist that triggered this blog.  It was an insurance firms’ advert that showed a board room table, at which each chair had in front of it the same microscope.  It suddenly dawned on me: if we all have the same data, the same analytical process, and the same lens to look through, life will become very boring. We don’t really want one view of the truth, nor do we want any view of the truth.  We actually need variance in order to test our view, to assure that it remains value.

So while our efforts toward “one truth supporting any number of views”, the reality is that poor data quality (for that is how we would classify an out-of-variance number) plays a role.  Maybe we should talk about “different data quality” rather than poor – its not that the alternative views we entertain are ‘poor’ – they are just different.

We would how that that even if we shared common data, perhaps we would come up with different views on explaining the shared view of the analytic.  Worse, if that was out, we would all just conclude the same and impact from the analytic.  We would not need as many folks if we are to just confirm.  Single view has its place but it is not nirvana nor a silver bullet.  It is a practical goal in support of some initiatives.  Let’s not get too excited here.


Andrew White

Gartner, Inc.


Sent from my iPhone.  Excuse the typos.



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