Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Report: 25% of Critical Data is Flawed

Datamation content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Many major companies are making crucial business decisions based on flawed data, according

to a new study from Gartner Inc.

More than 25 percent of critical data within Fortune 1,000 companies is incomplete and

inaccurate, say analysts from Gartner, a major industry research firm based in Stamford,

Conn. Although many executives aren’t even aware that they’re working with flawed data, the

ones that do often reach for the wrong technology to fix the situation, reports Ted

Friedman, principal analyst for Gartner.

”Most enterprises don’t fathom the magnitude of the impact that data quality problems can

have,” says Friedman. ” These problems cause wasted labor and lost productivity that

directly affect profitability.”

Friedman also notes that executives are mistaken when they look for a quick fix. They look

to technology to resolve data quality problems, without focusing on the human and business

side of the process first.

Looking at the data, where it’s coming from, who is gathering it and then how it’s being

stored and analyzed is key, according to Gordon Haff, a senior analyst with Illuminata, a

Nashua, N.H.-based analyst firm.

”It’s important that before a business worries about how many terabytes of storage they

need that they figure out what kind of data and how much data is going to be useful to

their business,” says Haff. ”Not everybody is going to benefit from a Wal-Mart level data

warehouse or a an level CRM system. It needs to be appropriate to the scale and

the type of business.”

Don’t misunderstand. Haff says the technology will be critical. But cool tools will do no

good if the data is inaccurate, incomplete or inappropriate going in.

”There’s applications and hardware available out there,” he adds. ”And they’re not

perfect, but there is fundamental technology available to put very efficient customer

relationship management or supply chain management systems out there. But before anybody

does that it would, be a good idea to assess the business needs. It’s an upper-level

management question and not just an IT management question.”

But flawed data isn’t a new problem.

Haff says businesses have been dealing with problem information as long as people have been

in business. It’s just that today, businesses are much larger, span countries and

continents and are capable of collecting mountains and mountains of information — flaws

and all.

Executives are making decisions about expansions, sales, marketing plans and even layoffs

based on market share information, who the biggest competitors are, where products are

selling the best, where they’re not selling and how much money their customers have to


If the information is off, so are the decisions.

”Executives should be able to have a better handle at least on the cut-and-dry facts on

their own business,” says Haff. ”There was a time when many businesses would have had

trouble even knowing how many widgets they had sold in the previous quarter. with today’s

systems, there’s fewer and fewer reasons why that data shouldn’t be readily available and

quite accurate.”

But the data being collected quickly becomes more complex than that.

Business partners need to be taken into account. Corporate divisions are being added and

subtracted. New products are being developed and others are being taken off the shelves.

Numbers in London may be tabulated differently than they are in Chicago. There’s a lot of

figuring to do. And there are countless numbers to keep track of.

Haff says the best thing to do when it comes to managing this data is for IT to sit down

with business executives and figure out exactly what data is important. From there they can

figure out where it needs to be stored and how it needs to be analyzed. Once the process is

in place, the technology can be chosen and installed.

”What’s causing the flaws in the data is not a computer inaccurately calculating that

data,” says Haff. ”If anything, it’s a business process problem. It’s typically going to

be more an issue of what data is being collected and how it’s being collected, as opposed

to it being incorrectly processed once it’s in the system.”

The only way to deal with that, according to Haff, is for IT and the business suits to work

on it together.

Subscribe to Data Insider

Learn the latest news and best practices about data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, data security, and more.

Similar articles

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Data Insider for top news, trends & analysis

Latest Articles