DQ-Tip: “There is no such thing as data accuracy...”

Data Quality (DQ) Tips is an OCDQ regular segment.  Each DQ-Tip is a clear and concise data quality pearl of wisdom.

“There is no such thing as data accuracy — There are only assertions of data accuracy.”

This DQ-Tip came from the Data Quality Pro webinar ISO 8000 Master Data Quality featuring Peter Benson of ECCMA.

You can download (.pdf file) quotes from this webinar by clicking on this link: Data Quality Pro Webinar Quotes - Peter Benson

ISO 8000 is the international standards for data quality.  You can get more information by clicking on this link: ISO 8000


Data Accuracy

Accuracy, which, thanks to substantial assistance from my readers, was defined in a previous post as both the correctness of a data value within a limited context such as verification by an authoritative reference (i.e., validity) combined with the correctness of a valid data value within an extensive context including other data as well as business processes (i.e., accuracy).

“The definition of data quality,” according to Peter and the ISO 8000 standards, “is the ability of the data to meet requirements.”

Although accuracy is only one of many dimensions of data quality, whenever we refer to data as accurate, we are referring to the ability of the data to meet specific requirements, and quite often it’s the ability to support making a critical business decision.

I agree with Peter and the ISO 8000 standards because we can’t simply take an accuracy metric on a data quality dashboard (or however else the assertion is presented to us) at face value without understanding how the metric is both defined and measured.

However, even when well defined and properly measured, data accuracy is still only an assertion.  Oftentimes, the only way to verify the assertion is by putting the data to its intended use.

If by using it you discover that the data is inaccurate, then by having established what the assertion of accuracy was based on, you have a head start on performing root cause analysis, enabling faster resolution of the issues—not only with the data, but also with the business and technical processes used to define and measure data accuracy.


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Worthy Data Quality Whitepapers (Part 1)

In my April blog post Data Quality Whitepapers are Worthless, I called for data quality whitepapers that are worth reading.

This post will be the first in an ongoing series about data quality whitepapers that I have read and can endorse as worthy.


It is about the data – the quality of the data

This is the subtitle of two brief but informative data quality whitepapers freely available (no registration required) from the Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA)Transparency and Data Portability.



ECCMA is an international association of industry and government master data managers working together to increase the quality and lower the cost of descriptions of individuals, organizations, goods and services through developing and promoting International Standards for Master Data Quality. 

Formed in April 1999, ECCMA has brought together thousands of experts from around the world and provides them a means of working together in the fair, open and extremely fast environment of the Internet to build and maintain the global, open standard dictionaries that are used to unambiguously label information.  The existence of these dictionaries of labels allows information to be passed from one computer system to another without losing meaning.


Peter Benson

The author of the whitepapers is Peter Benson, the Executive Director and Chief Technical Officer of the ECCMA.  Peter is an expert in distributed information systems, content encoding and master data management.  He designed one of the very first commercial electronic mail software applications, WordStar Messenger and was granted a landmark British patent in 1992 covering the use of electronic mail systems to maintain distributed databases.

Peter designed and oversaw the development of a number of strategic distributed database management systems used extensively in the UK and US by the Public Relations and Media Industries.  From 1994 to 1998, Peter served as the elected chairman of the American National Standards Institute Accredited Committee ANSI ASCX 12E, the Standards Committee responsible for the development and maintenance of EDI standard for product data.

Peter is known for the design, development and global promotion of the UNSPSC as an internationally recognized commodity classification and more recently for the design of the eOTD, an internationally recognized open technical dictionary based on the NATO codification system.

Peter is an expert in the development and maintenance of Master Data Quality as well as an internationally recognized proponent of Open Standards that he believes are critical to protect data assets from the applications used to create and manipulate them. 

Peter is the Project Leader for ISO 8000, which is a new international standard for data quality.

ISO 8000 is the international standards for data quality.  You can get more information by clicking on this link: ISO 8000


Whitepaper Excerpts

Excerpts from Transparency:

  • “Today, more than ever before, our access to data, the ability of our computer applications to use it and the ultimate accuracy of the data determines how we see and interact with the world we live and work in.”
  • “Data is intrinsically simple and can be divided into data that identifies and describes things, master data, and data that describes events, transaction data.”
  • “Transparency requires that transaction data accurately identifies who, what, where and when and master data accurately describes who, what and where.”


Excerpts from Data Portability:

  • “In an environment where the life cycle of software applications used to capture and manage data is but a fraction of the life cycle of the data itself, the issues of data portability and long-term data preservation are critical.”
  • “Claims that an application exports data in XML does address the syntax part of the problem, but that is the easy part.  What is required is to be able to export all of the data in a form that can be easily uploaded into another application.”
  • “In a world rapidly moving towards SaaS and cloud computing, it really pays to pause and consider not just the physical security of your data but its portability.”