Businesses are missing revenue opportunities and losing customers due to bad data practices or ‘dirty data’, according to new report from data firm Dun & Bradstreet. Almost 20 percent of businesses have lost a customer due to using incomplete or inaccurate information about them, with a further 15 percent saying they failed to sign a new contract with a customer for the same reason, it said.
Even within geographies, the survey found stark discrepancies. For example, compliance has been nearly twice as big of a concern in the UK than the US (31 percent vs. 16 percent), which may reflect the challenge of meeting the requirements of the GDPR. Already, over 10 percent of organizations report having been fined for data issues.
The way that data is structured appears to be a significant barrier in many organizations, with indications that data is often poorly structured, difficult to access and out of date. Nearly half of business leaders (46 percent) say that dirty data is too siloed to make any sense of it, with the biggest challenges to making use of data being:
- protecting data privacy (34 percent)
- having accurate data (26 percent)
- and analyzing/processing that data (24 percent).
This lack of structure may reflect the fact that 41 percent of business leaders say that no one in their organization is responsible for the management of data. This absence of ownership may also be why 52 percent of business leaders said they haven’t had the budget to implement data management practices within their organizations.
“Businesses must make data governance and stewardship a priority,” said Monica Richter, chief data officer, Dun & Bradstreet. “Whether leaders are exploring AI or predictive analytics, clean, defined data is key to the success of any program and essential for mitigating risk and growing the business.”
Getting rid of dirty data practices
The study does reveal a growing recognition that responsibility for data should be a priority for the C-suite. However, business leaders are divided as to who in the leadership team owns the data and what that will look like in the future. One thing all business leaders agree on is that the CEO has had, currently has and will have ultimate responsibility for data – more so than even the CTO or CIO.
The report also shows that two thirds (65 percent) of respondents say data will be vital to their organization’s future success. However, under a quarter of organizations (22 percent) have staff that are dedicated to the management of data and less than one fourth say that they have the right talent to implement effective data management.
Commenting on the findings, Anthony Scriffignano, Ph.D, chief data scientist at Dun & Bradstreet, said,”Information has always been critical for businesses, but over the past decade, the volume of data, the types of information available and the ability to do new things with that data have expanded enormously. It’s not surprising that many business leaders feel they are still catching up and their organizations are yet to make the most of data – and some have even been fined or lost customers due to incomplete or dirty data.”