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Why does data quality matter?

Years ago I worked in the Financial Service industry. I worked for three different Credit Unions and came across data issues constantly. Sometimes it was as simple as a check that was unable to be deposited because the spelling of the name was incorrect, or it was made out to a business name rather than the owner. Other times it was as serious as an individual’s credit being ruined because they had the same name as a relative and the credit reporting bureaus recorded the relative’s loans and late payments on their credit history instead. On a side note cleaning up those incorrectly reported credit errors is very difficult, but has gotten easier, primarily because identity theft has become more frequent in our society due to that credit problems are more common. I think everyone can think of a reason why it’s important for a consumer to have correct data, but it’s not always clear why businesses need to make every effort to keep their data clean and free of errors.

Data errors can affect any aspect of business. Everything from product stock, to financial numbers, to marketing effectiveness is tracked with data. If any of this data is figured incorrectly serious issues arise. Companies need to evaluate their systems and find the areas that are most vulnerable to data errors. One major area is Customer information. Unlike other areas, customer data is constantly changing, addresses, phone numbers and credit card information are often needing verification and updating. These are some of the most difficult areas to keep correct, because unlike data that a company provides, these types of data are completely reliant on outside sources. Businesses need to have the right tools in the hands of the right individuals to decrease the frequency of inaccurate data across every area of business.