It’s time to take responsibility for quality data

Poor data quality wastes time and loses consumer trust— it's no longer an option not to prioritize it.
7 January 2019

Engineer in the server room. Source: Shutterstock

Over the past 20 years, the influence and power of big data have grown immensely. While this growth has gone largely unchecked, it has brought innumerable benefits to those who want to harness data to connect with people in a more efficient and effective way.

As the data available improves, and the positive effects of harnessing and utilizing that data increases, data will become more integrated in all stages of decision making, and across all industries.

As a result of this, we in the data collection sphere need to be more proactive at identifying incorrect data and ensuring that any faulty data is quickly squashed out of our systems and silos.

The warning signs are there. The implementation of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe last May made a lot of people sit up and take note on the importance of accurate data. And it continues to draw attention to challenges of generating accurate data.

The challenges are reflected on the users’ end. More than two-thirds of people surveyed by Deloitte stated that third-party data on them was 0 to 50 percent correct as a whole. Half of those people said the information held about them was less than 25% accurate.

These rather shocking findings cause two problems. Firstly, it endangers the relationship between marketer and user. If you are approaching someone with a message, blatantly incorrect information is always going to be an immediate turnoff for consumers and may make the initial reasons for the approaching void.

The Deloitte survey mentioned above found that inaccurate data regularly led to decreased customer loyalty and a resulting hit on revenue, both from reduced confidence in the product and in missed opportunities stemming from inaccurate data. In such a saturated digital landscape, tarnishing your reputation due to faulty data may be irreparable.

Poor quality data also wastes a humongous amount of time— a business resource that is incredibly valuable. According to the New York Times, data scientists spend from 50 to 80 percent of their time preparing unruly digital data so can it can be explored for useful information.

The damage caused by this is underlined by research from Experian Data Quality. They found that inaccurate data has a direct impact on the bottom line of a staggering 88 percent of companies, with the average company losing up to 12 percent in revenue because of these failings. IBM believes that poor quality data costs the US economy alone $3.1 trillion every year. Globally, the cost is far bigger.

Further ramifications are being caused by the wider understanding of data, and a series of scandals over the last year. While not explicitly connected to faulty data, the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal drew significant attention to big data issues.

This attention is warranted, and it means that those who are collecting and harnessing huge swathes of data have a social responsibility to ensure that their data is correct and used properly. This is key in regaining and maintaining trust in both direct relationships to users and in the industry as a whole.

So what can be done to improve the situation? The key is putting control in the hands of the user. Data-utilizing businesses must be supported by powerful opt-in and opt-out processes across the network to ensure that the users’ experience and security is put at the forefront of the product offering.

This can be done through offering users a unique identification code that ensures the data held on them is accurate and consistent, with added encryption to ensure that no personal information can ever be used to track them.

We are standing at the precipice of a new generation in digital marketing, with a wave of exciting and innovative generation of tools, users, and companies ready to reach them. It is vital that we ensure that data is collected accurately, and used ethically. Otherwise, we run the risk of squandering the magnificent opportunity that we have in front of us.

Contributed by Sam Amrani, Founder & Executive Chairman of Tamoco.