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Roundup of November news stories

With November coming to a close and the end of 2013 approaching, it's clear that the holiday season is just around the corner, and that means a hectic time for everyone - especially the data quality community. With shoppers scrambling for gifts and merchants competing for business, accurate data is of the essence. It helps marketers peddle their wares and merchants complete sales.

November brought more news of technological progress, along with troubling news of a few setbacks as well. Let's delve into the headlines.

Investigating e-commerce
During this busy retail season, merchants have been busy scrounging up information on how to better connect with customers. They've uncovered a variety of strategies, including e-commerce platforms, email promotions, web forms and landing pages, according to iMedia Connection.

"As economic optimism spreads and consumers begin to open their wallets, retailers are investing in the technology they need to stay competitive," said Dan Darnell, vice president of product marketing at Baynote.

Mobile devices, social media sites and other means of data mining are all grabbing headlines. Using these innovations, companies are able to stay ahead of the competition.

Data going unanalyzed?
"Big data" is the latest craze, and everyone is looking to accomplish more with it. But there's a catch - the public and private sectors alike are actually struggling to use all the information at their fingertips. According to The Guardian, the world only analyzes a minuscule fraction of its data. The global data supply reached 2.8 zettabytes in 2012, but about 0.5 percent of it is used for analysis.

"As the volume and complexity of data barraging businesses from all angles increases, IT organizations have a choice," Jeremy Burton, executive vice president of product operations and marketing for EMC, told the news source. "They can either succumb to information-overload paralysis, or they can take steps to harness the tremendous potential teeming within all of those data streams."

Worrying about quality
In addition to analyzing all of their data, IT experts also need to worry about quality. Errors are bound to arise, whether through human error or technical malfunction, and it raises an important question - should companies be honest about their data quality "blemishes," or should they cover them up?

Many experts agree that honesty is the best policy.

"The next time you're making the business case for a data quality initiative, try listing all the positives that high-quality data has brought to your organization - and then add a specific instance where poor-quality data negatively impacted the organization," advised data quality guru Jim Harris.

Mailing mistakes abound
When data quality turns sour, the results can be catastrophic. If address management mistakes happen, for instance, you often see mailings sent to the wrong people. Such was the case in Southern California recently, as Health Net sent about 6,700 health ID cards to the wrong locations.

In this case, a computer program was at fault.

"Health Net believes that the programming issue that resulted in the identification cards being mailed to a member's former address has been addressed," the company stated, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Sometimes, it's outdated or misspelled contact information that's the culprit. In all of these situations, more attention to data quality is vital.

The market is booming
There's good news for those who care about matters of quality - software solutions for ensuring accurate data are selling like hotcakes throughout this decade.

According to a recent forecast from TechNavio, the global market for data quality tools is expected to grow 16.78 percent, compounded annually, between now and 2016.

High-quality data is important to everyone - public organizations and private alike. By obtaining better data quality software, everyone can get a leg up.