Last week was National Hygiene Week, a particularly pertinent theme given the last year and a half. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve all beefed up our individual and collective physical hygiene habits, both in a personal and professional setting.
From face masks and social distancing to singing Happy Birthday while washing our hands and sanitising our cucumbers, we’ve all upped our game to try and keep Covid-19 at bay.
While businesses around the globe have adapted to the presence of a physical threat, many still seem to ignore the impacts of a digital one: dirty data.
In this blog, we’ll be getting down to the nitty gritty and detailing the impacts of dirty data, and our top 5 tips for good data hygiene.
What is dirty data?
Very simply, dirty data is a data record that contains either incomplete or incorrect information. The impacts of dirty data are wide ranging and will manifest themselves differently depending on your industry.
According to research conducted by IBM, businesses in the US lose $3.1 trillion annually due to dirty data and poor data quality.
On a more tangible scale, the most harmful effects of dirty data for your business are the following:
- Poor quality analysis – If you rely on data to provide analytics to drive your business insights, dirty data will give you the wrong information, potentially resulting in you to making the wrong business decisions.
- Insults rather than insights – Sticks and stones may break your bones, but insults will lose you customers. Offering someone a service or product they’re not interested in is one thing, offering them one that is downright insulting can lead to a customer walking away and lasting reputational damage.
- Poor data compliance – If you manage to avoid insulting your customers with your dirty data, this doesn’t mean you’re getting away scot-free.
Sooner or later, you may well find yourself running afoul of the myriad data compliance laws like GDPR, resulting in a hefty fine.
How Can I improve my data hygiene?
If you think your data hygiene could be better, don’t worry, we’re here to help.
By following these simple steps, you’ll have some sparkly clean data, ready to provide you with sensational insights that will push your business to new heights.
- Take stock
The first port of call is to figure out what your problem areas are, and you can do this by auditing your current data records.
Figure out what you have and what state it’s in. Look out for incomplete, incorrect, non-compliant or outdated records and cleanse them from your database. If this sounds daunting, or you’re not sure where to start, our data quality improvement sessions will give you actionable solutions to bring your data records up to scratch.
- Merge what’s left over
If you’ve taken a “more is better” view on data, you’ll most likely end up with multiple records for the same individual.
One record may have an email address, the other a telephone number. The best thing to do in this situation is to merge the two into one complete file (record) creating a Single Customer View or Master Golden Record containing only the needed information.
- Format is key
A quick win on the road to hygienic data is formatting.
For each field, decide a format for them and stick to it. For example, with phone numbers this may mean including international dialling codes.
Doing this will streamline your data into a uniform format, making it easier to spot and correct any pesky inaccurate records in the future.
- Create a golden standard
Once you’ve done a spring clean of your current data, it’s then a good idea to consider exactly what data is important to your business.
What fields of information will realistically be helpful? Do you need a telephone number, or will an email address be enough?
Once you’ve decided this, applying it, along with your formatting, to your data collection process will take you once step closer to good data hygiene.
- Everyone needs validation
Once you’ve completed the prior steps, the last thing to do is validate your cleansing process.
This will allow you to make sure that all your efforts aren’t in vain and that the data being collected is clean, accurate and good quality.
This should be done regularly to ensure that everything is still running smoothly and that no renegade data records slip through the net.
How DQ Global can help
Unless you’re working with very small amounts of data, maintaining a spic and span data record is a herculean task that will likely consume most of your day.
At DQ Global, we’ve been supporting businesses across the globe with their data quality for over 25 years.
Through our DQ Diagnostic service, we work with organisations of all sizes, discussing the data quality issues facing their business. You can find out more about our no obligation sessions with our data quality experts here.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help improve your data quality or any other data management needs, you can contact us today by clicking here.