Companies need to be doing more than simply paying lip-service to data quality


By Wolfram Bosman

This has been evident for some time but it has now been highlighted by comprehensive research we have undertaken, which raises questions about the lack of support, which is being accorded to data within organisations.

The business world is based on data, not computers. This is understood on paper, yet often neglected in practice. It is necessary for a clear strategic and interdepartmental position on the issue, so departments know where responsibility lies.

If companies stop viewing topics such as Business Intelligence and Big Data as a trend and want to extract long-term benefits from them, they need to cement data quality into their corporate culture and live that culture.

However, the problem around data has been exacerbated as too many businesses are not pulling together in matters of data quality. Departments are even blocking each other when it comes to the dissemination of data.

For some companies, the subject it’s not even on the radar at all, with IT departments failing to recognise its importance and in many cases actually prohibiting data quality getting through.

The research we undertook was wide-ranging, involving 200 business managers in Germany and there was little to cheer about in the findings. In the research, almost half of those questioned said that the quality of data in their field of responsibility was below the necessary level, measuring at or below 60%. The quality level is only close to the ideal range of 90% or more in a minority of cases, just 7%.

IT departments, which should be the flag-waver for the benefits of quality data, are in four out of 10 cases inhibiting initiatives to improve quality data. Specialist departments, management, and employees are also blocking improved data quality.

Management, which should be a key driver for improved data quality, is also found wanting, with just 14% driving through change in an organisation.

The obstacles are on the whole twofold: departments are unwilling to work together on the issue; and deficiencies in the level of data quality are being downplayed in order to avoid companies potentially being forced to act.

Factor in the fact negative experiences with earlier optimisation projects undermining the status of data, and you can see the true size of the problem.

We are calling on a new strategic approach to data quality, so data and its growing importance is cemented into the business. Only this way will companies be able to see real benefits.

About the author

Wolfram Bosman is Omikron Data Quality GmbH.

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