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Firms need data stewards to optimise business initiatives

Organisations must establish data stewardship roles in their organisations to improve business data quality, says analyst Gartner.

Organisations must establish data stewardship roles in their organisations to improve business data quality, says analyst Gartner.

Gartner said poor data quality severely inhibits many strategic business initiatives, such as customer relationship management, business intelligence (BI) or any effort requiring significant integration of data.

A recent European Gartner survey of more than 600 BI users found that more than 35% identified data quality as a major problem facing their organisation in the next year to 18 months.

The success of data stewardship requires organisations to move towards a culture that views data as a competitive asset rather than a necessary evil, and to define clear goals for data-quality improvement, said the analyst.

"Data quality is a business issue, not an IT matter, and it requires the business to take responsibility and drive improvements," said Ted Friedman, a Gartner analyst.

He said appointing data quality stewards helps organisations achieve data quality improvement goals. Such individuals should be considered subject-matter experts for their departments and act as trustees of data, rather than owners of it.

They will ensure that quality is maintained to make the data support business processes, he said.

For example, a marketing specialist from the company's marketing department could act as the data steward in a data quality improvement programme, by keeping marketing data complete, correct, consistent, honest and not redundant.

In this role, they would have responsibility for ensuring marketing-relevant information adheres to corporate data quality standards.

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