Data modelling – the concept of creating a visual representation of an information system to show how data points and structures are connected – has been around since the sixties. It was at this time that managing data became a thing, as large mainframe computers started collecting data. Organisations, realising they might be sitting on a gold mine, wanted to see if they could use data to better understand their businesses. This kick started the idea of data modelling. Over the years, it’s evolved considerably as technology has evolved. And when done properly, it means everyone has the same rules, definitions, examples and can communicate in the same language – it can become a very powerful tool.
The downward trajectory – garbage in is garbage out
Of course, as technological evolution has soared, computers became more powerful and able to store increasingly larger quantities of data. And as it did, the weight of the data didn’t seem to have an impact on the performance of our systems or applications. As a result, the school of thought was ‘if we have all this processing power, why do we need data models?’ But this was flawed thinking.
With no data model, it becomes chaotic. Take the definition of an important business term – for example, what one part of the business deems a ‘customer’ isn’t the same as another department’s ‘customer’. If there isn’t any standardisation, deriving any sort of MI will be nigh on impossible. So garbage in, will invariably be garbage out and business communication will suffer as different departments will be communicating in completely different ways.
Slowly but steadily, people have come to the realisation that although being able to increase CPU to enhance performance is one thing, the organisation of data is just as important. We need to be able to lay our hands on the right data at the right time in the right location if we are ever to get value out of it.
A living document
Gradually, people began to realise that an effective data model can mitigate against the failure of projects. If you have a decent data model in place, errors are discovered more quickly and fewer iterations are needed as business rules are defined. Creating a data model forces organisations to articulate and define all its processes and entities which helps it to understand the meaning behind the data and its relationships. It becomes a living document of what the organisation is.
And better still, it reduces complexity and helps solve complex issues.
An additional benefit is that the performance of systems and apps can be even better, as the implementation can be better defined. It doesn’t matter how much data goes through it, because with a well-ordered data model, you can always be in control of where a single data point resides and can fully rely on its insights.
No data model equals poor decision making
Data modelling is now the undisputed champion of data order and data governance. In today’s world – where data is an organisational gold mine – a well-constructed data model is essential if you want to get a deep understanding of your organisation, its processes and its people. A data model gives meaning to raw data and it could even hold the key to unseen potential and opportunities for your organisation. Without it, an organisation risks making poor decisions because of poor data management.
A data model – and well-ordered data – is the foundation stone for data insight at your organisation. It gives structure to your data, gives definition to your data and is a powerful tool to enable effective communication throughout the organisation. Data modelling is rapidly becoming a permanent feature in all data projects – as it should be. And as business requirements become more sophisticated, the call for well-structured data will become more and more vital. In a world where data proliferation is soaring, the earlier organisations get in on the data modelling march, the better. And the more likely it is to give them a competitive edge.
If you would like to speak to someone at Valcon about data modelling and how to build a tool for effective communication at your organisation, please email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch right away.