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Thomas Redman, aka the “data doc”, spoke about a topic growing in popularity:

Getting in Front of Data Quality.

Redman, who is the President of Navesink Consulting Group, made the point that now all data is quality data. Many companies and organizations are not sure how to achieve quality data. He pointed out three common flaws in organizations:

  1. ~50% of a knowledge employee’s time is wasted looking for data and fixing the errors

  2. Communication is the biggest complication when solving data errors within an organization
  3. Data quality is #7 in an organization’s list of top 5 things to do. It needs to be top 3 for 2014

What would the doc prescribe?

When you are sick, the doctor will offer some sort of medicine to help your immune system fight the illness. Makes sense. But…

Will this keep me from getting sick next time?

The answer is no.

A company without decent data quality is one sick puppy. When you find an error, you can have a quick fix, but you won’t be able to prevent future errors. Higher quality data and data sources helps to eliminate your chances of future “illness”.

Data quality is the vaccine not the antibiotic.

Creating the Vaccine

With the use of data quality, future disasters are avoided and all information can be shared between data creator and data consumer. The challenge is making this the norm for all customers and their data. You have to get the employees to think and act differently. They have to find the errors and fix them before they become a problem for other areas of interest in the dataset.

REdman points out that only two moments matter when it comes to data quality:

The moment of creation 

The moment of use

Your organization cannot achieve proper data quality management unless you connect the two. The creator needs to have accurate and complete data ready for use.

Quality means meeting the most important needs of the most important customer.”

A company will not understand the data they are working with when they do not understand what the customer is looking for. You need to know your customer. You need to know what they want and what is most important to them and you have to change as their needs change if you want optimal retention. For the company to do its job properly however, the organization has to make their needs very clear to their vendor.

In order to properly manage data and to keep the quality of it in tact, measure it and check the records for it.

This will help:

– Keep root causes from recurring

– Keep people from making simple errors

– Develop overall trust in the data

– Feel confidence towards the future

“Departmental silos get in the way of communication”

This last part is crucial. I’ve worked in an association briefly, and I have witnessed firsthand how communication can slack and change the outcome of a project.

We have all seen the shows where a person is at the doctor for a routine check-up, but somehow their chart gets switched and they end up getting their tonsils taken out. The same thing can happen to an association or organization who is not communicating effectively around data. A lack of transparency around the problems in data fidelity will lead to perpetuating issues in analysis, summation, and ultimately strategy.

With the modern technology that exists today it should be easier than ever to communicate with one another, yet it just is not happening. You want everyone touching your data because the more people that see and understand it, the more errors that can be fixed. Proper communication facilitates an environment that searches out errors and places and premium on organizing the team around a centralized strategy.

The threat to this is low fidelity information and data.

Bad data is like a virus.

If you are in exhibit sales, the wrong information or misinformation can cause you to misidentify the growing market, sell based on the wrong value proposition, or make you seem out of touch to today’s attendee.

Quality data is essential for success.

When the correct information is in front of you, it empowers your team to work with an additional tool set that can set your organization or meeting apart from the competition.

It feels good when we get over a cold, but wouldn’t it be nice to not get sick in the first place?

-Nick

**Photo by Alvimann