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Living a healthy data quality lifestyle

We live in an era of healthy living (whether we like it or not). Much to my dismay, I find my doctor constantly telling me to eat more fruits and vegetables, whereas I would rather be eating a cheeseburger and fries. And that’s not all – drink more water, cut out carbohydrates, take the stairs, get more sleep – it’s endless! The reality is, my doctor is right—and if I want to live a long and prosperous life, I need to take a comprehensive approach to my healthy lifestyle. Eating a green bean occasionally isn’t going to do the trick. I must see how I can incorporate as many aspects of healthy living as I can into my everyday life.

And the same is true about data quality. It’s an easy trap to fall into. I’m going to send my customer records out for address verification, and I can now sleep well at night knowing I’ve addressed data quality! This is the same rationalization that I tried to pull with eating the occasional green bean – one effort alone is not enough. As many steps as it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle, there is just as much to consider when it comes to improving the health of your data: address verification, single customer view, data transformations, validation rules, and data enrichment.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of data quality activities, but to illustrate that you need to take multiple actions in the pursuit of an overall goal of good health for your data. There are many different ways people try to get healthy (yoga, kale, oxygen bars), and each have their pros and cons, but the point is to take these individual actions as part of a larger plan. Living a healthy data quality lifestyle is much the same. You’ll need to take actions that make the most sense for you and your organization; but you can be assured, it will be more than one action!

If you think about it, each action that you take on your road to healthy data quality can build on the previous actions to get you closer to your goal in the end. Start with data profiling (it’s like your initial doctor’s examination – you need to know what areas to focus on). Next up, a little data transformation for your various data elements – dates, IDs, amounts, codes. Even fields you think are in good shape will likely show their blemishes during profiling, and can likely be fixed up nicely with some simple transformations.

Now you can get to the heavy lifting. Address verification is a critical component of any data quality strategy, and is a fundamental starting point for ensuring robust customer relationship management. (A little National Change of Address updating is always a nice touch – like substituting broccoli for your potato!) Once you’ve been able to verify and correct your addresses, wouldn’t it be nice to gather more information about your customers? Data enrichment can be a huge benefit in gaining insights on your customers with additional demographic and firmographic information.

Last, but certainly not least, now that you have squeaky clean individual records, data matching is the final piece of the puzzle (like a good night’s sleep!). Gaining a single customer view of your client base will help build positive relationships at every touchpoint with your customers. You can argue that all the other tasks are the building blocks to getting the most accurate results out of your matching process, using clean, standardized, enriched data to provide you the best view of your most important asset – your customers!

Just like a healthy lifestyle, the time to start your healthy data quality journey is now. Don’t worry about your past behavior – you can work off last year’s data migration project like it was an all-you-can eat pizza buffet. It just takes time, diligence and a goal to get your data quality in the best shape it can be!

Are you ready to get your data quality in better health? Think of us as your data quality doctors.

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