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Finding the real impact of data quality in finance

Richard Jones

October 27, 2014

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Businesses today have practically endless reasons to care about maximizing data quality, and one of the key ones is the long-term impact on their finances. If a company has highly accurate data about its employees, its workflow and most importantly its own customers, it can use that information to make sharper decisions in marketing, sales and more. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Shoddy or outdated data can lead an enterprise down the tubes.

This has been a recurring problem for numerous banks, who have had trouble lately with making smart choices about the future of their customers and their money. But data issues extend well beyond the actual finance sector - really, any company that manages money needs to think about the long-term effects that come from having good, clean data.

Data you can take to the bank
Like any industry that works with large volumes of customer data, the banking sector is not immune to the adverse effects of data quality issues. According to CBR Online, this is actually quite the widespread problem for banks. The news source cited an SAS-sponsored study in which 35 percent of banks say they're having trouble aggregating customer data and managing all the requirements that come with it.

Brooke Upton, SAS' senior product marketing manager for risk, explained to the news source that dirty data can present long-term issues for financial institutions.

"Banks are really struggling with data quality, and a lot of that has to do with aggregating the data, and combining that data to present it in an accurate and reliable format to produce good results," Upton said. "They don't have enough skills and expertise in the regulatory space. There's a lot of manual intervention to actually collaborate the data across lines of business, there's a lot of manual intervention and reliance on spreadsheets."

Finding a way to cleanse data would be a godsend for the industry.

The universal data effect
By no means, though, is the need for clean data limited to the banking industry. Imagine running a retail outlet and trying to make long-term decisions about your finances. How much of your budget should you dedicate to marketing? How big a sales staff do you need? These are big-picture questions with a huge impact on your bottom line, but without clear data on your customers, good luck answering them.

Data quality has far-reaching effects. It can benefit your company as it relates to marketing strategies, internal workflows and long-term financial decisions. Whether you're running a bank, an e-commerce outlet or just a mom-and-pop shop, clean data always matters.

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