It’s Time to Ditch the Data Janitor

August 19, 2014 Brad Perry

If what gets measured gets improved, why don’t more companies measure digital marketing data quality?

Everyone wants accurate data, but the gap between those who want it and those who do something about it is astonishing. If data quality is assigned to someone, too often this person is underqualified, not a stakeholder, or is too junior to make an impact. It’s time to ditch the data janitor.

In a recent white paper, Eric Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified argued for the role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Eric posits that in a company, there should be one person (or group of people) responsible for data governance.

Data Steward Qualifications

While the particular role and title of this person or group will depend on the maturity and size of the company, generally the CDO or data steward will regulate, manage, justify, and test digital marketing technology and own data quality. Four specific qualifications are prescribed for this role.

Technical Background

A strong background in technology is an absolute requirement. Competency with JavaScript is a minimum; depending on the digital environment ActionScript, database skills, analytical skills and familiarity with relevant tools are likely important as well. Of course, there must be familiarity with the platform each digital property is built upon.

Understand Business Value of Data

Technological sophistication is only a small part of a data steward’s job; the big picture is in communicating value of the data back to the business. Collecting data for data’s sake doesn’t drive value. The purpose is to collect data to inform business decisions.


Far too often, a junior employee will be deemed the data janitor. A data janitor lacks the influence and authority to cause change when change is needed. By assigning responsibility for data quality to someone more senior, the odds are shifted in favor of a better return on marketing technology.

Data Orientation

Data stewardship is the responsibility of those who work with the data. Rather than assign the role to a technician who is trained to identify broken code, a data-oriented steward will understand the effects of the breakage, be equipped to choose effective corrective actions, and know where to look for more problems. There are profound differences between having data and having correct data.

Once someone is assigned to a data stewardship role, organizational governance processes should be created. This will provide a framework for handling systematic and systemic data quality problems. Furthermore, a proactive approach will prevent common data quality problems.

Quality: A Way of Life

Data quality awareness is much more than a conversation, it’s way of doing business. And just like with anything else in business, if you want it done right, it needs to be done by the right person.

We Can Help

Once someone is assigned responsibility for your company’s data, the next step is to create organizational process and governance to ensure ongoing quality and handle exceptions as they occur. This is something we will discuss in our next post. To download the white paper this post is based on click here.

Our clients include top Fortune 500 companies and we’re a proud Adobe community partner. Want to talk more about data quality management? We can help.

This post is based on the white paper Data Quality and the Digital World by Eric T. Peterson, Principal consultant at Web Analytics Demystified.


About the Author

Brad Perry

Brad Perry has been Director of Demand Generation at ObservePoint since June 2015. He is, in his own words, “unhealthily addicted to driving marketing success” and has demonstrated his unrelenting passion for marketing in various verticals. His areas of expertise include demand generation, marketing operations & system design, marketing automation, email campaign management, content strategy, multi-stage lead nurturing and website optimization.

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