Data Management Concepts for Sustainability, Pt. 4
This article was written as an expansion of our white paper “Choosing Sustainability Management Software for your Business” published in July 2011. If you’re looking for information on how to make your software selection, check out the full article. If you just want to make sense of this particular topic, keep reading. Whether you like this article or not, we want to hear from YOU so that we can continue to provide the best insight for YOU, our readers… Our series on Sustainability Software continues with “Data Management Concepts for Sustainability”. In this article (Part 4 of 4), we’ll complete the introduction and definition of key Data Management terms (read Part 3 here). Our end goal with this series is to enable YOU, as the Business Leader, to feel more comfortable in a technical discussion related to the various areas of Data Management, especially as related to the care and feeding of Sustainability Software packages. Being able to “talk the talk” is the best defense in the technology wilderness. Just remember, at the basis of any technical term is a common sense business notion, and staying grounded to this notion will help keep your conversations from drifting astray.
Data IntegrationData Integration is one of the most difficult of the activities covered in this series because it involves most of the different activities working in concert with each other. For example, it is implicit in Data Movement between systems where the Data models are different. Suppose we have data in our Accounting system that will be used in a cost calculation algorithm (method) in our Sustainability Software. To do this, we need to copy the Accounting data, then reshape it to conform to the load utilities for our package and proceed with the load. This setup entails numerous subtleties including the cross referencing of the source data model in the Accounting System with the format of the import utility. This is called Field Mapping and it’s not just an easy matching question where you can get the first few right and guess the rest. Examples will help us here.
- Suppose we need to deal with quantity shipment data and the target model is asking for unit prices and volumes. We might need to deduce the carbon content per gallon from the available carbon content per fifty five gallon barrel, or just divide by 55.
- A more complex example involves translation from the English System to the Metric System (raise your hand if you can do this without a calculator).
- Another example would be the rules concerning the potential for rounding errors for large quantities.
- A final classic example is how to deal with Asian names (commonly listed with the surname first) being transferred into a system with a European paradigm (where the surname is listed last).