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Roundup of April news stories

Paul Newman Archive

Across the business world, companies are looking to make steady improvements in the way they collect and analyze data. Their challenge is twofold - they're looking to stay one step ahead of their competitors in terms of analytics, and at the same time, they're also looking to raise their standards for data quality so that their future initiatives are more precise.

There's a lot going on, and change is coming rapidly to the science of analytics. In the last month alone, several new developments have shaken things up. Here's a recap of the stories that made headlines in April.

Feeling the international impact
It's not just American businesses that are realizing how gravely important data quality can be. Internationally, the impact is felt as well.

IT Business Edge reported on the dramatic effects of dirty data in the United Kingdom, for example. The news source reported that poor-quality information in the UK contributes to a total of 1 billion pounds of wasted budgetary monies per year.

"We see this time and again," said Martin Doyle of DQ Global. "Large organizations plow money into projects that should make information management easier, but the data flowing through the system is not of a high enough standard to make investment worthwhile."

Helping retailers sharpen skills
Retail is one area in particular where companies can make significant improvements by looking more closely at data. Shoppers are sharing their information online every day, whether by ordering products on websites or using mobile apps. This data can be turned incorporated into business strategies for merchants everywhere.

According to Information Week, this should be a major factor in the coming years in the retail industry. Arvind Nagpal of TEG Analytics said that data-driven models are the future.

"The future of analytics is focused on bringing the science of analysis with the art of decision-making as compared to most analytics companies that create standardized reports from data," Nagpal stated. "Simulation and optimization are advanced capabilities that not only require a strong mathematical base but also a deep understanding of the business context of the client being serviced."

A treasure trove of public data
It's not just private companies that are doing their part to collect data. The government plays a significant role as well. President Barack Obama has been leading this charge - a year ago, he signed an Open Data Executive Order mandating that troves of public data would be available to private citizens and businesses.

Computerworld recently speculated that the effects could be tremendous, pointing to McKinsey research. The findings: Open data could add $3 trillion or more of annual value into the global economy.

"The vast potential of open data is not only to increase transparency and accountability of institutions, but also to help create real economic value both for companies and individuals," McKinsey partner Michael Chui said.

Taking action for better data
Of course, all of this talk about data-driven progress, in both the public and private sectors, is contingent upon high-quality data. And often, this presents a problem, as people are quick to make changes in their lives, and information thus becomes outdated.

Every time someone moves, or gets a new phone number, or email address, data is becoming outdated and organizations' entries are rendered incomplete. Business 2 Community cautioned this past month that fixing this problem regularly is essential.

"Poor quality data has one of the biggest single impacts on B2B marketing success," said Julie Knight, founding director of Marketscan. "All too often, data audits and the use of data cleaning services take a backseat to other marketing priorities. It's time to redress the balance."