It All Begins with Data Quality

July 15 2014

Author: Peter Krensky, Sr. Research Associate, Aberdeen Group


Most recent conversations in the data management world have centered on flashy terms like Big Data, real-time analytics, and self-service business intelligence (BI). However, lost amidst all this glitz and glamor is the fact that these advanced tools are dependent on the strong fundamentals of data capture, cleansing, and governance. Aberdeen Group’s research on data management revealed that one element of data management stood out as the most important – data quality. Out of 122 surveyed organizations, the Best-in-Class (top 20% of performers) were shown to be three times more likely than other organizations to adopt data quality tools. This in turn correlated with increased performance in data analysis, employee efficiency, and the speed and accuracy of business decisions.

When examining organizations that have invested in improving their data, Aberdeen’s research shows that data quality tools do in fact deliver quantifiable improvements. There is also an additional benefit: employees spend far less time searching for data and fixing errors (Table 1). Data quality solutions provided an average improvement of 15% more records that were complete and 20% more records that were accurate and reliable. Furthermore, organizations without data quality tools reported twice the number of significant errors within their records; 22% of their records had these errors.

Table 1: Data Quality Provides Accuracy and Efficiency

Performance Metrics Have Data Quality Don’t Have Data Quality Performance Difference
Percent of records that
are accurate
85% 71% 20% more accurate
Percent of records that
are complete
86% 75% 15% more complete
Time spent looking for data
(per employee per week)
3.6 hours 5.4 hours 33% less time
Percent of records with significant errors 11% 22% Half as many errors
Average time to fix significant errors 14.5 hours 28.1 hours 94% less time

Also, employees at organizations with data quality tools were less likely to have to deal with missing information, duplicate records, or software applications that couldn’t read files. As a result, they spent 1.8 fewer hours per week searching for the information they needed to do their jobs. This means that the average employee saved almost 12 full work days over the course of the year by quickly accessing this information. In the same vein, employees spent less time correcting major errors in the records they did access. Significant errors in data can cost an organization a lot of money in lost sales, bad decisions, dissatisfied customers, or in remediation costs to a wronged partner. The cost in terms of man hours can be painful as well. The average organization without data quality tools needs over 28 hours to track down the problem, locate the missing information, and fix a record — almost twice the time needed by companies with these tools.

Data quality tools might not be as exciting as some of the new technologies that are being developed around data management and analytics. However, for many organizations, poor quality data is a top concern. Aberdeen’s research has continually shown that strong data quality is a vital foundation for any successful analytical programs. For companies struggling with inaccurate information, or looking to optimize their BI or analytical solutions, Aberdeen recommends implementing a data quality tool or enhancing basic data quality tools with additional features.

Peter Krensky is a Senior Research Associate in Aberdeen’s Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Planning & Execution practices. At Aberdeen, Peter produces data-driven research to reveal the business benefits of various technology solutions. This research identifies industry best practices for technology implementations that lead to top performance. Peter’s primary research topics include real-time analytics, data visualization, self-service BI, and cloud/SaaS BI, as well as role-based and industry-specific applications of analytics. Peter graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Amherst College in Amherst, MA.

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