Data has been a hot topic for organisations for some time. Now that volumes of data are increasing exponentially, the importance of good data to allow organisations to achieve their objectives is also increasing rapidly. So, how to turn data from a cost to a benefit?

All business processes and business decisions are reliant on data – this could be formal data from enterprise systems, informal data from emails/social media or implicit data. If data quality is poor, or data is exploited poorly, then costs of managing data can increase whilst the effectiveness of data exploitation may decrease. The May 2018 GDPR deadline means that the potential impacts of non-compliance could be large.

To paraphrase the quality management ‘guru’ Philip B. Crosby:

“Data quality is free. It’s not a gift, but it’s free. What costs money are the unquality things – all the actions that involve not getting data quality right the first time and all the actions to correct these data quality issues

The benefits of improved data quality can be grouped in three main areas:

  • Decision making – making better decisions/ avoiding bad decisions
  • Efficiency – less wasted effort finding/ cleansing/ combining different data sets
  • Less risk – reduced risk due to poor decision making or organisational ‘surprises’ and lower project risks arising from data migration activities

I regularly compare approaches to data with the approaches to health and safety. A phrase heard in the safety world is “If you think health and safety compliance is expensive, just wait until you have an accident”, its parallel in the data world could be “if you think good data management is expensive, just wait until you have a fine/security breach/failed project”.

There are also many synergies between improving data quality/ data management and improved business outcomes:

  • Better/ good data will aid planning for a task/activity
  • Better data as an input to planning will reduce the likelihood of having to make last minute ‘adjustments’ in order to complete an activity
  • Better planning will help reduce safety risk and increase the quality of outcome
  • This will lead to better customer/ service perceptions
  • Effectively planned work and the avoidance of rework will reduce activity costs


On the 22nd  November at the IRM Enterprise Data Conference Europe I will be moderating the discussion on this subject with:

  • Lars Slagboom, Head of Data Management, ABN AMRO
  • Nikolai Petrou, Data Strategy Consultant, PA Consulting Group
  • Sarah Burnett, Chief Data Architect, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of improving data exploitation, why not join us?

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