Improving data quality will help your organisation embrace financial rewards and better brand perception

Research calls for UK organisations to harness the full potential of their data to help boost the bottom line. The independent research, which interviewed over 1,300 IT decision makers in seven countries – of which 303 were from the UK – found that only 44 per cent of UK businesses are investing in data quality with a view to generating revenue.

If UK organisations with 250+ employees fully harnessed the revenue generating potential of their data by better managing information, the total financial boost to UK PLC would be at least £8 billion.

For an individual organisation, this could improve the bottom line significantly with research suggesting an average revenue generating potential of between £431,000 and £9,262,000 over a two year period, depending on the size of the organisation.

These financial returns are delivered through a better understanding of who and where customers and prospects are, ensuring better quality sales leads, encouraging longer term customer relationships and prompting repeat purchases.

Efficiencies are also gained by reducing the significant costs attached to inaccurately addressed or ill-targeted direct mail and other communications. All of these returns are directly related to improved data management practices.

While the majority of businesses have not fully seized the revenue potential of good data management, it has nevertheless risen up the board’s agenda as businesses take advantage of its ability to increase their efficiency (66 per cent) and reduce costs (50 per cent).

Nine out of 10 UK organisations doubt their data

Despite more recognition of the importance of data, this is yet to translate into practice as 90 per cent of UK organisations suspect that their customer and prospect data is not completely accurate.

The potential for revenue generation through better management of data is considerable, but the research suggests that antiquated data quality methods are holding companies back. For example, a staggering 42 per cent of UK organisations carry out data analysis using Excel spreadsheets to detect data quality issues.

UK organisations too reliant on manual methods

The over reliance on manual methods is exacerbating poor data quality, with 50 per cent of businesses that lack complete trust in their data blaming human error for poor data hygiene and inaccuracies. The result is that resources are wasted and brands are damaged due to misdirected customer communications.

In the UK in the past three years, over a third of companies have sent mailings to the wrong address and 27 per cent have mistakenly sent multiple mailings to the same postal address. The research suggests that many companies are investing precious financial, staff and material resources in direct mail activities that may actually result in negative brand perception and poor customer service; ultimately resulting in lost sales.

Some positive signs

Although only 44 per cent of UK businesses are investing in data quality with a view to generating revenue, in the last two years 81 per cent of UK organisations have made improvements to the way they manage their customer and prospect data by upgrading their data management systems.

According to the research, 43 per cent use dedicated point-of-capture software that guides data input and verifies contact information as it is being entered. 39 per cent also use dedicated back-office software to clean contact data after it is submitted into the database.

We are living in a digital world and organisations are being bombarded by valuable data about customers and prospects from all touch points. The research clearly shows that UK organisations are increasingly seeing the importance of data management, but too many are using old fashioned methods to solve a complex modern problem.

This is a missed opportunity and businesses need to invest in the right tools to improve the quality of their data to embrace the financial rewards, improved customer service and brand perception that great data quality can bring. Above all, the customer interface of these products and services should be simple and deliver against organisational objectives.

Joel Curry is managing director of Experian Data Quality, previously known as Experian QAS. Joel joined Experian QAS in 1997 as a Sales Account Manager in the London-based operations. In 2000, he relocated to Boston to set-up the US sales operation where he successfully built the first sales team. Prior to Experian QAS, Joel Curry worked in sales at ATI Technologies. Joel earned a degree in Human Physiology from the University of Birmingham in Birmingham and a MBA from City University Business School in London.