Data quality is becoming a prime concern for companies of all sizes, not just the big boys who have traditionally always dealt with these issues. In today’s business environment everything a company does is tracked and measured, the sheer quantity of information available can quickly become overwhelming and at worst, forgotten about or even lost.
Our Data is Safe and Secure… Right?
We all love to think our company information is safe and secure but if we take a step back and have a good look at how our information is stored, created and who has the potential to gain access to it, we all would most likely make a few changes to our process. Lets ask ourselves a handful of questions and determine if we are happy with our answers.
- Where is your information stored?
- Do you store it in the application that is collecting it?
- Who has access to the source information?
- Do you download it into Excel or a like format to run reports?
- What happens to that file after its pulled from the source?
- Do you know what happens to that Excel report after you’ve seen it?
- Is it being emailed back and forth, is it on someone’s desktop or a thumb drive?
- Do you know the final resting place for the information?
Now some of us will know ever answer and be happy with our answers but many us will either not know the answers or will not be happy with our answers and that’s OK because knowing you have a problem is the first step in correcting the problem.
This a Business Issue not (necessarily) an IT Issue
Understanding you need to make a change to organize and invest in your data quality is great but sending an email or making a phone call to your IT department asking them to “organize and clean our records/data/analytics etc…” is not. The business managers need to understand the systems at use (ideally at a cross-departmental level) because we are all running multiple systems with multiple streams of data that add to the our data “problem.” They also need to understand their end game, what goals are we measuring, what type of information are we looking to extract, and most importantly, how will this information benefit the business as a whole?
Set Goals to Measure by
You know you have the data but how are you going to use it? You should be setting goals to measure yourself by so you can understand what needs to be done to achieve those goals. Without a set goal, a brilliant piece of data goes unused. For example you may get 10,000 visitors a month to your website, great information to know, but what do you do with that information? Is that above or below average for you industry? Do you know how many visitors a month you need to generate X number of dollars in new business every month? Should you really be aiming for 12,000 or 15,000 visitors a month? All important questions but without a set goal and clear understanding of your information, you are trying to find the corner of a circle, in other words, its not going to end well.
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