Feet of clay & how poor data quality destroys business value

Jan 28, 2021 12:31:14 PM / by Andrew Smith


I've always enjoyed discovering the origination of commonly used phrases or expressions and during the holidays one saying in particular got stuck in my brain: “feet of clay”.

It has one of those colourful background stories that sticks with you once you have heard it and like so many commonly used phrases is actually biblical in origin. More specifically, the saying itself comes from the Book of Daniel and concerns the interpretation of a dream that King Nebuchadnezzar has had of a “giant idol with golden head, silver arms and chest, brass thighs and body, and iron legs.”

Only the feet (or foundations) of this magnificent statue were not made of metal - they were made of clay - which of course made it vulnerable to collapse and was its fatal flaw.

So, it’s essentially an allegory about the importance of a strong foundation being the basis for greatness or success. And to my mind, it really illuminates the foundational importance of good quality data and how poor data quality can destroy usefulness and business value.

At NationalMap, we live by the belief that for great outcomes you need great data and that great data has 3 key attributes; currency, completeness and comprehensiveness.

A really obvious and current example of data impacting outcome (and what originally got me ruminating about “feet of clay”) is the NZ Covid Tracer App. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great piece of technology but currently its great weakness is of course data (or lack thereof) due to too few of us actually downloading and using the app regularly.

Sadly, I’d go so far as to say that the NZ Covid Tracer app can realistically only ever be as good as the data that underpins it, which is a maxim that applies for many projects and technology platforms - data is the key.

The smartest technology in the world with incredible user experience can all be undone by poor (or in this case a lack of) data, totally undermining the success or usefulness of a project or platform.

Obviously I work with data all day every day so I’m naturally inclined to see poor foundational data as the biblical “feet of clay” for many organisations, but, I’m not alone in my concern. According to the Forbes Insights and KPMG “2016 Global CEO Outlook,” 84% of CEOs are concerned about the quality of the data they’re basing their decisions on.

 So, if you want to ensure there won’t be data issues of biblical proportions for your next project, platform or application then get in touch with the team at NationalMap today to ensure your spatial data foundations are current, comprehensive and complete.