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Proactive data quality management leads to savings

Rachel Wheeler Archive
Data quality for operational, marketing or customer service purposes should be a top priority for virtually every business regardless of industry, yet it seems that many companies still struggle to prevent errors and duplications from leaking into their databases.

Sometimes, the problem is a lack of policies and processes that vet the information before it is committed to the system. In other organizations, management does not recognize or understand the value that data presents, and as a result, does not view it as an issue worthy of financial investment and employees' time.

Low-quality data's costs

According to a white paper issued by Information Builders, it is much better to adopt data quality tools that can stop errors from getting into the system than to try correcting the problem retroactively.

"While identifying and correcting bad data after it enters the environment is important, the ability to manage data quality in real time will deliver benefits that are far more substantial," the report notes. It cites data from Sirius Designs, which indicated that there is a 1-10-100 rule regarding data quality. While it may cost just $1 to verify a record, the expense jumps to $10 for using deduplication software and cleansing solutions on a record that has already been entered. If a company ignores the problem, the record could lead to $100 in losses due to reduced revenue or lagging productivity, the Sirius Designs researchers found.

The white paper compares the flow of data to that of a river.

"Stopping contaminated water at its source would be less costly and require less effort than cleaning a large body of water - the lake that the dirty river runs into - after it has been polluted," the author notes. "Cleansing information that is scattered across several sources will consume far more human and financial resources than simply catching a bad record as soon as - or before - it enters a database."

Be proactive

Companies that are aware they have a data quality problem but that fail to address it could set themselves up for major expenses or missed earning opportunities as a result. If you are trying to get executives on board with a program to overhaul contact data quality or to clean up some other form of information on the corporate system, appeal to the leaders' business sense. Offer hard numbers for how the data improvements can raise revenues, increase worker productivity and make customer service more intuitive and in-tune with clients' needs.