“Only four types of organisations need to worry about data quality: Those that care about their customers; Those that care about profit and loss; Those that care about their employees; and Those that care about their futures.” – Thomas C. Redman (2006)
Over recent years publishers have had to overcome many hurdles in the digital world, such as making content available online, managing complex consortia deals, creating new packages of content and tracking usage statistics. The result of all this digital activity is vast amounts of data. However, the pace of change can often distract from the careful governance of this data, leading to gaps, inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
But why does the quality of all this data matter so much? Good data is your most valuable asset, and bad data can seriously harm your business and credibility…
1. What have you missed? At a management level, poor data quality equates directly to poor visibility of key trends in the growth or decline of certain products or markets. At the contact level, you may miss out on valuable sales opportunities if email address fields aren’t filled out correctly or customer names are wrong. Having good data will help deliver better customer service and enhance your reputation, and it means you can make better selections for targeted prospecting, cross-selling and up-selling.
2. When things go wrong. Bad data can lead to ‘accidents’ and wrong decisions or actions which can affect customer confidence. You’ve spent time building up a valuable customer list – so it’s important not to waste this by sending campaigns to the wrong people, or with messages which don’t match their interests, or to out-of-date or deceased contacts. Data quality issues can also cost you money directly – for example if invoices or renewal notices are sent to the wrong recipient, or at the wrong time.
3. Making confident decisions. Data quality matters most of all because it enables your staff and management team to really trust the accuracy of the reports and analysis they’re given. Without that confidence, apparent trends or new opportunities will always leave you wondering whether they really present a true picture. But with a complete and accurate view of your customers and prospects, comes the confidence to make well informed business decisions and commit fully to your strategic planning.
So, data quality is a very important foundation for a publisher’s entire business planning process and customer contact strategy. Good data quality will allow your business and its reputation to grow and flourish. We’ll look at some practical steps to address data quality issues in a future article.