We all set New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, research suggests that 63% of us break them within just one month. However, if there is one New Year’s Resolution that you must stick to, it is surely to improve the quality of your business data.
According to Gartner more than 75% of companies are investing, or planning to invest in big data in the next two years. Consequently data-driven culture becomes mainstream and is adopted by more and more businesses to drive growth and maintain competitive advantage. So, if you are going to improve the quality of your data in 2017 then…
What should I stop doing?
Stop focusing solely on collecting data at the expense of quality. Analytics help drive business by showing how your customers think, what they want and how the market views your brand. Consequently, if your data is inaccurate, hard to use, or not there at all, your business can pay the price. Research from Experian Data Quality shows inaccurate data impacts the bottom line of 88% of businesses, with the average company losing 12% of its revenue as a direct result.
Access to accurate data opens a world of opportunities including the ability to make smarter decisions and forecast accurately. For this to happen you need to introduce policies and procedures for capturing data, detailing how to record and maintain information. To start, you should decide what data will help you to understand and anticipate your customers’ needs more effectively. Identify how is best to record and report on it, including use of fields and naming conventions.
What shall I do less of?
If your employees rely on paper-based invoices and sales orders and spend hours manually entering them into different accounting and sales systems you need to realise the potential for errors and inaccuracies, including typos, incomplete information or duplicate records. According to market research firm IDC and as reported on Forbes, companies lose 20 to 30% in revenue every year due to such inefficiencies.
If you do less manual data re-keying, your data is likely to be more accurate and error-free. To achieve this it’s worth investing in an integrated system to run all your business processes, this way your staff won’t have to spend hour’s cross-posting information or rekeying data manually. Moreover, with all business information in one place, you’ll be able to make decisions with confidence, knowing the information is reliable.
What shall I keep doing?
Duplicate records can affect customer experience and the accuracy of your reports and forecasts, so it is important to keep a data deduplication routine. Imagine knowing that you were mailing 1,000 individuals twice and then think of the associated cost and potential brand damage.
Nonetheless, the core benefit of deduplication is not only cost savings, but also capacity optimisation. With the regular deduplication routine you will be able to store more data in less physical space, achieving greater storage efficiency and freeing up your database space.
What shall I do more of?
According to research, data decays at a rate of about 30% per year. Think about how many people in your company change jobs each year, how many people move houses, get married or relocate. This contributes to data decay, affecting your business decisions as well as finances. Each year, UK businesses waste £220 million sending mail to the wrong people. This is money you can invest in business growth instead of throwing it down the drain, quite literally.
In order to stay in front of data degradation issues, you should do more of data re-validation. Depending on the volumes of data you hold you might want to outsource this to specialists. Updated records can be also obtained from accessible resources such as the Royal Mail PAF and Companies House. Alternatively you can manually update their data through telephone calls, e-mails, letters and other data collecting initiatives.
And what shall I start doing?
The data can only take you so far, the real drivers are the people. According to Gartner, data quality can only be achieved when the business adopts a data-driven culture – and you should start this process now.
To become data-driven you need to establish processes to make it easy for employees to acquire the required information. Most importantly, ensure everyone understands the benefits of keeping accurate data and how it adds values to the roles they perform, i.e. tell your sales people how it will help them win more customers. By establishing value and responsibility for the information, with time you will be able to maintain data quality so decisions are not made on misinformation.
According to Sage, companies with more effective data grow 35% faster year-over-year. So, make sure this is one resolution you keep!