Experian Data QualityExperian published the findings of its 2015 Global Data Quality Research, confirming that while businesses are increasingly aware of the potential of their data – with estimates that it could improve profitability by up to 15%(1)- more than 90% still find data improvement challenging.

The research, which interviewed representatives of 1,239 organisations in the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands, establishes that most now understand the importance of their customer data and its potential to drive value. But despite this growing level of understanding, many are still struggling to harness the strategic value of that data.

There are two main reasons for this. The first being a lack of ownership and co-ordination – with almost 63% of organisations lacking a coherent, centralised approach to data quality. And the second being the use of outdated methods to check data accuracy – with 29% of organisations still manually cleaning their data.

Key Findings

Businesses see data as a strategic asset

  • More than 90% of organisations say they are leveraging both data and data quality to help deliver more interesting and relevant communications to customers and prospective customers.
  • Meanwhile, 95% of companies feel driven to use data either to understand customer needs, find new customers or increase the value of each customer.

Data quality is correlated with profitability

  • CIOs believed their business could increase their profits by an average of 15% if their data was of the highest quality
  • CIOs went on to cite savings from investing in data quality tools to be less than £1million whereas, comparatively, CDOs state this to be in excess of £5million.

Awareness of data problems is growing

  • The number of organisations who suspect their data might be inaccurate in some way has increased to 92%, up from 86% last year
  • The volume of inaccurate data is also rising. On average, respondents think that26% of their total data may be inaccurate, up from 22% in 2014 and 17% in 2013
  • With 23% of businesses saying that revenue has been wasted as a result, an increase from 19% last year.

Businesses are planning to improve

  • 92%of respondents say they find some element of data quality challenging
  • However, most organisations are making an effort to improve what they do. In 2015,84%of companies plan to make some sort of data quality solution a priority for their business, either implementing a new system or improving what they already have.

A need for greater data sophistication

Organisations were asked how they saw their approach to data quality, ranging from basic understanding and processes to a highly sophisticated system of data management.

Only 26% of companies placed themselves in the most sophisticated category – and these were mostly larger companies with 5,000 or more employees. Similarly, only 35% say they manage data quality in their organisation through a single director. 57% say data quality issues are only found when reported by employees or customers. Taking ownership is key.  Almost 63% of organisations lack a coherent, centralised approach to data quality  Many of these companies say they have some level of centralisation, but more than half (51%) say individual departments still adopt their own strategy; while 12% say all departments manage their own data quality in an ad hoc way.

Using technology for maximum benefit

  • 88%of organisations have some kind of technology solution in place
  • Many already use automated systems such as monitoring and audit technology(34%),data profiling (32%) or matching and linkage technology (31%) to clean their data
  • However, a high proportion of companies (29%)are still using manual checking to clean their data
  • The findings show improving data quality reaps rewards given that 70%of companies whose profits have risen sharply in 2014 also plan to invest more during 2015.

Source: Experian