The Small World of Data Quality

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By Danette McGilvray, Granite Falls Consulting, Inc

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “It’s a Small World” made famous by the Disney song of the same name. We hear it often enough that it feels trite.  But there are some occasions when the truthfulness of a well-worn expression hits home and reminds me of the real meaning behind it.

Danette McGilvray

I have taught and presented internationally about data quality over the years, but always in English and to audiences where English was well understood. I am eager to discuss information quality any time, but was particularly looking forward to my first trip to Brazil some years ago. As one of three invited international speakers (along with Rich Wang and Yang Li), we were to present at one of the early conferences of QIBRAS (Quality Information Brazil). This trip was different for me because I would present in English to a few hundred non-English speaking attendees who would hear my words through their headsets with simultaneous translation into Portuguese. While I had presented through simultaneous translation years before in China, it was a smaller group, different subject, and a more intimate setting. The two days after the conference I was scheduled to teach my Ten Steps to Data Quality course to another non-English speaking audience.

I believed in what I was teaching, but was unsure how it would translate cross-culturally. Yet as I was teaching, the questions and issues that came up were familiar ones. My concerns eased as I saw that the core concerns of data quality transcended language, culture, and country. It was exciting to realize that no matter the background of those I was working with, the things I was sharing were fundamental, and could be applied to situations everywhere throughout the world. Data quality became, in my mind, a unifying force. Brazil taught me that.

Since Brazil I’ve presented in many countries, some with translation into other languages. I like to joke that data quality people will be the ones that bring peace to the world because we all speak the same language—data quality. The need for high quality information and the impact of poor-quality data have been evident everywhere I go. I have made many friends and acquaintances abroad, and have gained an appreciation for the depth and unity of the international data quality community. It truly is a small world.

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Note: Portions of this article contain material from Danette’s book Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™, 2nd Ed. (Elsevier/Academic Press, 2021) See

This article Copyright 2022 by Danette McGilvray, Granite Falls Consulting, Inc.  ( All rights reserved worldwide.

Danette McGilvray is president and principal of Granite Falls Consulting, a firm that helps organizations increase their success by addressing the information quality and data governance aspects of their business efforts. Focusing on bottom-line results, Granite Falls’ strength is in helping clients connect their business strategy to practical steps for implementation.  Granite Falls also emphasizes the inclusion of communication, change management, and other human aspects in data quality and governance work. Danette is the author of Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™ 2nd Ed. (Elsevier/Academic Press, 2021).  An internationally respected expert, Danette’s Ten Steps™ approach to information quality has been embraced as a proven method for creating, assessing,  and managing information and data quality in any organization. She is also a co-author of The Leader’s Data Manifesto and has overseen its translation into 21 languages (see Contact her at, connect with her on LinkedIn: Danette McGilvray, and follow her on Twitter: @Danette_McG.

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