Let’s face it: data quality is important, but how do you know if it is causing your business problems?
There are some very technical definitions of data quality, but let’s stick to some simple questions you can ask yourself:
- Are the data accessible?
- Can you easily land on a specific piece of information, such as whether a given customer lives on the ground floor of a building?
- Can the data be moved and re-used in a completely new and different environment, or will the columns and records need to be restructured?
- Can you easily combine your data with new sources to provide new insights?
If you are unsure about the answers to these questions, it’s time to take a closer look. Data quality means:
- That Information is accessible
- That you have the flexibility to port the data elsewhere
- That you have the luxury of enriching the data with new sources.
For some, data quality means that your data is not causing noticeable problems. Systems are stable, and applications provide expected results. Change does not seem worth it, and it is a comfortable place to be.
For example, in a billing system, if invoices go out in a timely manner and payments are received, all is well. Don’t fix what is not broken! While the system may be functioning, it might be worth examining downstream consumers of that system’s data. What if Marketing wanted to run promotions for specific customers? Could they easily target which customers have a birthday this month, or those living within a certain radius of a location? You might have that information locked up in your data. How quickly can it be accessed and utilized for your business?
Think about the many laws, regulations, and accords that are forcing many businesses into a new era of responsibility. If you’re in this group, you’re probably familiar with Dodd-Frank, Basel III, CCAR, and GDPR. Failure to comply with these regulations can have serious consequences, including steep fines, invasive audits, and interruption of business.
This is where data quality can become a glaring liability. Here are some questions we ask our clients as we help them assess risk:
- Does data flow freely through your organization?
- Have you implemented data governance policies? To what extent?
- How complete, accurate, and timely is the data on which you are basing major decisions?
- Do you have an accurate view of the risks your organization is shouldering?
- Are you able to process customers opt-out preferences promptly?
Data flexibility is key here. Businesses in this category must govern and interrogate their data in ways past generations could not imagine. If your data is tangled in a large unwieldy system – or series of systems – there’s work to do and time is short.
What is the reward of having accessible, portable, and flexible data? You can now experience the real magic of data quality: converting, combining, and enriching data sources to build actionable intelligence for your business. For example: that old billing database can be re-purposed into marketing gold with a little creativity.
Another example: An overnight delivery service recently extended the value of its sizable store of business contact information by converting and plotting each address to a map of its existing delivery routes. This identified a “gold list” of potential customers to target with deals that critically undercut the competition in tight markets.
Imagine transforming your data into one of your business’s strongest assets. What will you be able to do when your data is in shape? Alpine can help you unlock the power of your data. From strategic mapping of your information assets to deriving tactical intelligence needed to close a key deal – we’re here to help you forge a path to data success.
Give us a call and let’s talk about your objectives!
Nick Klesaris, Senior Information Management Consultant
Alpine Consulting, Inc.
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