Why Data Quality Matters
What is Data Quality?
Data quality refers to the process of ensuring that data stored in a data warehouse and other sources meet the required level of accuracy and reliability for operational and transactional purposes, including business intelligence, analytics, and reporting.
Improving data quality can provide the following benefits:
- Enhancing customer profiling and targeting to drive new business
- Meeting compliance requirements to avoid penalties and lawsuits
- Increasing returns on investments by basing decisions on accurate data
- Improving employee productivity by minimizing time spent verifying data
Why Data Quality is Essential for Building a Strong Digital Culture
The emergence of technologies such as Big Data, cloud computing, and automation has allowed companies to collect more data than ever before. Research shows that the average company handles nearly 163 Terabytes of data, and larger enterprises manage almost 345 Terabytes of data. However, not all collected data is utilized effectively. This phenomenon, known as “dark data,” occurs when organizations fail to use stored or processed data for analytics and other purposes.
Incomplete, missing, and duplicate data can have serious consequences for companies in various industries:
- Inaccuracy and duplication of contact and account data can lead to missed quotas in marketing.
- Inconsistent address details can hinder the identification of the most profitable areas for opening stores in the retail sector.
- Incomplete patient history data can affect the accuracy of diagnosing and treating patients in the healthcare industry.
- Duplicate contact data can make it difficult to identify individuals attempting to commit fraud in government programs.
By ensuring data quality and using merge purge software to efficiently identify and fix data errors, companies can leverage dark data for operational and transactional purposes.
Challenges of Data Quality
Up-to-date and relevant data can help organizations make data-driven decisions and achieve positive outcomes such as improved customer experience, transparency, accountability, and strategic alignment. However, several challenges can act as barriers to achieving organizational goals:
Variety of Data Sources and Structures:
Medium-sized and enterprise companies often deal with disparate data sources, including on-premises databases, cloud applications, and Excel files. The diverse structures of these data sources, which can be unstructured, semi-structured, or structured, can create issues. Additionally, non-standard formats and validation of stored data further complicate the integration and modification of files.
Duplicate or Redundant Data:
Duplicates are inevitable due to manual data entry errors, such as spelling or punctuation mistakes, or when importing/exporting lists. Users may unintentionally copy and paste lists in different data systems, resulting in duplications and redundant data.
Lack of File Naming Conventions:
Data quality errors can occur when there are no standardized file naming protocols. Different conventions used by users, such as sales representatives recording contact data, can result in variations in fields. For example, one user may save “United States” as “US,” while another may save it as “USA.” Although seemingly small, this discrepancy could lead to the omission of many contact names belonging to the United States.
3 Ways to Improve Data Quality at Your Organization
Implement Data Validation Rules
Having a company-wide policy of standard data validation and file naming rules can minimize the risk of data quality errors. Instead of leaving the responsibility solely to the IT department, management should set guidelines for how each field should be recorded to prevent discrepancies. For instance, should contact names be entered as first and last names, or should address details include street names and Zip+4 codes?
Routinely Audit Data
Regularly auditing data health can verify the accuracy and relevance of data for business activities. This is particularly important for fields like title and company, which can quickly become outdated and hinder organizational goals. Involving all stakeholders and analyzing relevant data sources during the audit process is crucial. Access privileges should also be reviewed to ensure that only relevant individuals have the ability to amend and modify data.
Opt for a Merge Purge Software
Using a dedicated merge purge software can effectively remove data errors, such as incorrectly formatted and invalid data, and identify and eliminate duplicate and redundant data. These tools enable data connectivity from multiple sources, data profiling, data standardization, efficient data matching, and deduplication. Additionally, they excel in managing the complexity of different data structures and employ prebuilt parsing solutions to correct data anomalies.
Ensuring high data quality allows companies to leverage insights more effectively, driving their organizational initiatives forward. However, managing challenges associated with disparate data sources, duplicate data, and a lack of data governance measures can be complex. Employing a merge purge software can be a suitable solution for addressing these challenges and handling millions of data points spread across multiple datasets.
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