Data quality improvement impeded by lack of automation

Data quality improvement has boosted revenue at 12% of a sample of UK companies. Progress impeded by poor automation, says research from QAS: 42% use Excel spreadsheets to detect data quality issues.

A recent survey found that 23% of UK organisations still use manual processes to manage customer and prospect data, and 42% use Excel spreadsheets to detect data quality issues.

These were among the findings of research conducted by Dynamic Markets on behalf of Experian QAS, a “data integrity” company which specializes in fixing broken postal addresses.

“If your data quality strategy is Excel, then good luck!", said Joel Curry, managing director, QAS Experian, UK and Ireland. "There are way too many people using a manual process to fix the data quality problem. It’s like using shovels and ploughs rather than tractors for farming. Excel is not designed to be a data quality tool, it is designed to be a basic desktop spreadsheet”.

This is not the only research to suggest an over reliance on Excel for data management and business intelligence this year. The Corporate IT Forum found that Excel is the top BI weapon of choice in a survey conducted in March and April. Ninety-seven senior IT professionals from 40 corporate organisations responded to the survey, and rated Excel ahead of Business Objects, Hyperion and QlikView.

For the QAS research, Dynamic Markets interviewed 1,300 IT professionals in seven countries; 303 were from the UK.

“Of those who implemented something new [81%], 15% were prepared to say they did get uplift”, said Curry. “Coming off the back of a godforsaken economic experience, where, two years ago no one would give you the time of day in terms of an increasing revenue story, there has been a major shift. We are not bumping into many companies where saving costs is the major thing.

“There has also been a shift in who owns data quality from IT to business executives”.

Curry said sectors anticipating growth for data quality products and services include insurance, where Solvency II means wrong customer data necessitates firms having to carry unsustainable amounts of capital. “Ten per cent incorrect data would be death”, he said.

University alumni donation efforts would also benefit from improved address data quality, maintained Curry. “US universities have got this down to a science; UK universities will have to do this more. It’s easy to lose contact with people in their early twenties, immediately after graduation”.

The research found that in the last two years 81% of UK organisations changed data management systems to improve the way they handle customer data: 43% use point-of-capture software; 39% also use back-office software to clean contact data.

Other findings of the Experian QAS sponsored survey include:

  • 24% of companies examine data in the database, row by row, to maintain accuracy
  • 20% said they have lost customers because of inaccurate data input
  • 20% have lost customers because of the amount of time it takes to input information on their web site

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