Difficulties with data quality ripple throughout the world, from large multinational corporations to small-time public services. It's not just big business that needs accurate clusters of data in its coffers.
A real-world example of data quality recently arose in a small town in West Virginia. South Charleston, a suburb of 13,000 that's not to be confused with Charleston, the state's capital, realized that its post offices were receiving large volumes of mail in error. Companies were delivering parcels to the wrong localities, delivering to South Charleston instead of Charleston, or vice-versa.
According to the Charleston Daily Mail, the mayor of South Charleston has taken notice of this problem. Frank Mullens told the newspaper that the problem has made it difficult for individuals or businesses to keep their operations running smoothly.
"I think it's a problem with postal service software code," he said. "The answer I get from the postal service is unacceptable. We're working on it and will do our best to get it resolved."
Many different senders of mail have been affected, ranging from the public water utility to private companies like Lowe's and Dollar Tree.
The problem may even lead to erroneous tax returns among West Virginian citizens. If they receive water bills that aren't accurate, consumers may find themselves filing tax returns based on the wrong local tax codes.
"The question is where is the utility tax money going?" Mullens told the Daily Mail. "We don't know. We want them to track it all the way."
This is a clear example of the need for better data quality services among public and private organizations. If the water authority used address management software to wash away errors in its customer databases, there would be fewer mail mishaps, and people could receive their mail reliably each day. Without such solutions in place, mailing errors like this could continue indefinitely.