5 Points for Data Quality Survival Series (Part 1 of 5)

February 17, 2016 Adam Gilbert

In our high-speed world, most people believe data is king.

I disagree.

For me, data, especially high quality data, means survival.

More and more, society is shifting toward total dependence on data, to the point where the quality of the data can mean the difference between life and death. From the patient suffering disease, to government corruption, to weathering a national financial storm, to a country on the brink of collapse—the quality of data used to make decisions is paramount.

Now, most of us will not have to track genetic data points to find the right treatment for heart disease, or compare spreadsheets and reports to try to identify corrupt government officials.

The majority of us, however, will be directly affected within our companies and positions by the quality of our data both good and bad. In fact, as every industry becomes more and more data-driven, our professional survival depends on the quality of the data we are working with.

There are several ways for you to not only improve your chances of Big Data survival, but to be a rock star, delivering actionable insights with the very best information available in ways that impact your organization’s bottom line.

Over the coming weeks, I will delve into a five-part series on how you can begin to increase your online data quality.

Survival Point ONE: Promote Your Data Quality Owner

The first step towards increasing your data quality is to assign your data to someone you trust.

Many of you may remember the early days of the internet when online analytics consisted of a  counter on the bottom of your screen.

It did the job and we all got a high off watching the number increase!

Still, the data that was coming in didn’t tell you what was really happening on the site.

Fast forward a few years to the maturing of web analytics as a 3rd party solution, now companies were starting to see that their website could be used for more than simply sharing basic company information, and that people would actually spend money using the internet. Most organizations began to assign one or two interns to implement some sort of analytics program, in hopes of gathering some sort of useful information.

Can you imagine how many people would lose their jobs if that protocol were still practiced today?

Forrester Research describes the data scene today and the need organizations have for quality data:

Business and technology leaders are increasingly aware of the value of data and the insights they provide. Clearly data enables better informed business decisions, improves customer experiences, drives operational efficiencies and better business planning, and ensures compliance and risk mitigation. Data also enables the development of better products and services—and some may be based on the data itself. Year over year companies increasingly see data as a tool for market differentiation—with business benefits topping the list of business intelligence goals. In this age of the customer, decision-makers report improving customer interaction and satisfaction as the most important driver of their business intelligence strategy. But with more opportunities to translate data into business value, companies turn from traditional business intelligence approaches to a more comprehensive approach to building systems of insights, which Forrester defines as:

The business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action.

-Top Performers Appoint Chief Data Officers Forrester Research, August 2015

To meet the laundry-list of needs that come with collecting, managing, vetting and communicating the value of Big Data, organizations need leadership to close the gap.

This requires a complete shift in thinking for many companies, but the most effective companies understand the importance of quality data and now have entire teams dedicated to data quality, including upper management professionals.

How to Know A Data Quality Owner When You See One

A true Data Quality Owner needs to have the correct background and authority to influence organizational practices. This includes the following:

  •   Strong Technical Background

There are many employees in your company that may know how to read HTML, or know how to effectively run an AdWords campaign, however, this doesn’t always translate into a complete understanding of your technology stack and the information available through different solutions. Competency with your company’s online technology and familiarity with the different platforms is necessary.

  • Seniority

This is not an insult to all the interns out there, but a tenured person within your organization with the right context, level of trust, and influence in your organization is imperative to own and govern your data.

  • Understand Business Value of Data

However, simply having seniority and a technical background will not be enough to ensure survival in this role.

Your Data Quality Owner must also understand how your data is being consumed and be able to create dialogue around the requirements, purposes and methods of data collection.

  • Good Data Orientation

A data-oriented person who understands the effects of breakage will know where to look for problems and will choose effective corrective actions.

Yes, there are new technology platforms that automate certain portions of your Data Quality Program, but this does not reduce the need to have a single person over your data assurance processes.

If anything, as your organization continues to mature in it’s digital intelligence and recognizes the value of Data Quality Assurance technology,  there is more credence to having a Data Quality Owner within your organization as he or she is able to guarantee your data is accurate and can be used by everyone in your organization, from your web analysts, to your CEO, to your investors.

Check back in next week for Survival Point TWO: Define Governance for Data Quality


About the Author

Adam Gilbert

Adam Gilbert has been in Digital Marketing for the past ten years, eight of which he spent at Adobe as a Senior Customer Success Manager working with Fortune 100 companies. He has worked with accounts in all verticals including Hi-Tech, Travel & Leisure, Retail, and Financial Services. Adam now manages the Partner Program at ObservePoint as the Senior Partner Success Manager. Personally, he loves getting out into nature with his family and can regularly be found hiking the many trails in Utah. He uses his passion for the outdoors to run two websites for wilderness survival courses and hiking trails.

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