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LESSON - The Corporate Asset Your Board Is Missing: Data Quality as a Boardroom Issue

By Len Dubois, Vice President of Global Marketing, Trillium Software®, a division of Harte-Hanks

What is your organization’s single most important asset? It could be your company’s devoted employees, proprietary technology, or award-winning customer service. Or it could be the one common denominator every company has, but rarely leverages to its full potential—data. Vital information lives throughout a company’s corporate infrastructure, from simple customer databases to complex enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Despite data’s role as an invaluable resource, most organizations today put more value on high-priced applications used to access and deliver information, while paying little attention to the accuracy and quality of the data living within their infrastructure. Unfortunately, data quality is not just an IT issue. Poor data quality causes havoc in your boardroom and across your organization, jeopardizing customer retention, decreasing the value of your current IT investments, and hindering your ability for global relationship comprehension.

Without enterprisewide data quality, organizations are poised to lose revenue and miss major opportunities for cost savings and new business ventures.
—Len Dubois, Vice President of Global Marketing, Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks

Customer Retention/Acquisition

Each customer interaction presents new revenue opportunities. However, at each customer touchpoint within an organization there is the potential for data corruption and thus potential for a disastrous customer exchange. Data quality becomes imperative to a satisfying customer experience, providing corrections to human error and reducing the costs of the transaction in the process. Accurate data also offers a complete, well-rounded view of the customer, providing the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell products to a more historically receptive audience. The more an organization can refine and maximize the value of customer data, the more instrumental that information becomes for impacting the bottom line.

Increasing Value of IT Investments

Organizations must take advantage of the vast numbers of data elements created and stored in existing systems, and integrate that information across the organization. Consider how important it is for a large manufacturer to understand each supplier. It isn’t unusual for a manufacturer to hold a number of contracts with one supplier that services different divisions of the company. Leveraging the total value of the relationship is only possible if there is an accurate, unified view of the supplier relationship. Data quality technology enables organizations to maximize the value of the old and the new data, while leveraging existing IT investments and keeping costs to a minimum. Smart IT spending does not have to be an oxymoron.

Global Relationship Comprehension

Technology has opened up the global marketplace to every company. To penetrate these new markets, companies must be able to draw on accurate, relevant, real-time information that transcends the barriers of language, culture, and location to make decisions and market products. Faulty data can undermine an organization’s competitive position in this type of competitive global marketplace. The power of data to deepen relationships within a given market is proven, but it takes on new meaning in uncharted waters. Companies may only get one chance to broach new customers, so it is critical their data is customized culturally—enabling the information to work for them, not against them. Otherwise, these organizations run the risk of alienating potential customers indefinitely and jeopardizing legitimate global expansion.

Running a successful business is an ongoing improvement cycle. It means refining procedures and processes time and time again. By ensuring that accurate, reliable information is in place, organizations are empowered to take advantage of tangible business opportunities on a daily basis. For this reason, data quality extends far beyond the IT level, beyond database duplicates, and beyond simple name and address matching. Without enterprisewide data quality, organizations are poised to lose revenue and miss major opportunities for cost savings and new business ventures. Try explaining that one to the board.

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