Closing the data quality gap

Andrew Abraham, global managing director for data quality at Experian, discusses the prominent data quality gap impairing organisations, and how this can be overcome

Over the past two years, business leaders have faced unprecedented disruption. As the global economy has sought stability throughout the pandemic, high-quality data has been key to ensuring customers remain at the heart of business operations.

The proper use and management of data is fundamentally about the quality, accuracy, and agility in various data sources. Contact data is vitally important for reaching customers, even more so since the pandemic. Our own research among senior and C-suite leaders tells us that 85% of respondents indicate that poor contact data for customers negatively impacts their operational processes and efficiency. The reality is that closing the data quality gap is now more important than ever.

Growing dependencies on data at a time when the number of sources creating it are also expanding presents challenges of its own. The channels most relied on today are email, phone, face-to-face interactions, and social media. But tomorrow, many organisations will rely upon name and date of birth, location data, phone numbers, and social media handles to process customer interactions. This means that just as more channels are being used to connect with consumers, many organisations are also being pushed into a digital-centric environment with even more data to manage.

This poses a fundamental challenge for businesses – how to close the data quality gap whilst managing increasingly large volumes of data. The answer is strategically simple – adopt an agile mindset. When leaders can act fast, customer data becomes even more valuable. With the pandemic rapidly driving change in consumer behaviour and accelerating digital transformation, business leaders need to keep their teams on their toes.

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Adopting an agile mindset

Data agility has become a central pillar of building a supple business, one that can move, and pivot quickly as new information arises. In the simplest terms, data agility is the distance between the data that informs a decision and the decision itself. This means that poor quality data will lead to poor decision making.

Pairing trustworthy contact data with an agile data management programme enables organisations to make their data actionable, allowing for better and faster decisions when pursuing new and existing opportunities. That’s why 94% of business leaders believe having agility in both business and data practices is important in responding to the pandemic.

Achieving greater agility requires business leaders to rethink their use of technology and be more open to integrating it into their businesses. Half the human brain is devoted to processing visual images and processes data at 60 bits per second. That might go some way to explain why four out of 10 leaders say they are looking for easy-to-use solutions; in turn this helps enable data and business users alike to visualise, read, write, and argue with data insights. With 81% agreeing that they are automating more of their data management programme to free up time to focus on strategic activities.

Creating a data-driven culture

With the right data management capabilities in place, business leaders can reposition their organisations to process high volumes of quality data at speed. Data is considered high quality when it can be efficiently processed, analysed, and acted upon to serve its intended purpose. Holding quality data allows a business to communicate more effectively with their customers, determining their individual requirements, and providing insights that lead to innovative ways to serve their personal needs and wants.

When leaders successfully close the data quality gap, they generate a constant flow of trustworthy and reliable insight to teams across their business, and a data-driven culture will begin to flourish. This in turn puts customers at the heart of every business, and across every department regardless of whoever and wherever they are.

That’s why data ultimately serves customer needs not just internal operations. Customer experience has been top-of-mind for years. But businesses that invest in their customer data quality are likely to reach or exceed their goals. Buying behaviours may change, but brand loyalty will remain the same.

Written by Andrew Abraham, global managing director for data quality at Experian

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