All data is created equal, right? A few missing pieces of information here and there, a few duplicate addresses, no big deal…right?
The fact is, poor data quality can manifest itself in a variety of ways in the typical organization. Some of the impact is on IT and the more sophisticated technical decision-makers, as more time is required to cleanse and prepare data for analysis.
However, the biggest impact is felt by business users forced to make critical decisions based on a shaky foundation of data. On the flip side of this equation, effective data preparation activities can have a substantial positive impact on these users. This impact comes in three key flavors, all related to the end-user’s decision process.
With a critical decision at hand, users often need to bring more data into an analysis, profile a data set to make sure they’re looking in the right place, de-duplicate a customer list to make sure they’re not wasting effort, or hold any variety of activities related to data quality. Having the ability to perform these activities on their own, without having to rely on a long, drawn-out IT process creates tremendous value and time savings for these users.
In the same way that a line-of-business manager can’t spend a week with their report request tied up in an IT queue, any desire for data access needs to be met with rapid response. The data needs to be available, accessible, and ready to use, reducing or eliminating unnecessary time spent gathering and preparing data for analysis.
While companies all too often operate as a conglomeration of disparate functional silos, top-performing organizations recognize the importance of sharing data, knowledge, and wisdom across the business. It’s rare that a critical decision rests upon data from one department or functional area, and the ability to share information across these silos is of critical importance to the decision process.
Aberdeen Group’s research demonstrates that Best-in-Class companies experienced a significantly heightened degree of user satisfaction in these three areas.
Critical Aspects of the Decision Process
Through a well-rounded strategy for data preparation, top-performing companies empower more business leaders with the tools and skills they need to access and exploit data in a self-service capacity, reducing reliance on IT. Additionally, they accelerate the flow of information within the organization, and expand access to more users and functional areas within the company.
The three-pronged approach to data prep
Data preparation is quickly gaining stature as one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of today’s analytical environments. Without a solid foundation of clean, relevant, and timely information, companies are forced to make decisions with limited confidence and over-reliance on gut instinct. The research demonstrates how Best-in-Class companies have a three-pronged approach to enhanced data preparation.
First, these top companies employ a wide variety of disparate data types (internal and external, structured and unstructured) to help populate their analyses. Second, they use several key processes and internal capabilities (data governance policies, formal development of analytical skills) to raise the quality of the data and the people using it. Third, Best-in-Class companies leverage several key complementary technologies in conjunction with their data preparation efforts (interactive visualization, predictive analytics) to develop a more comprehensive analytical strategy. These efforts lead to more effective data preparation, and ultimately, more enhanced business performance as well.
For more information, explore the full research report here: Data Preparation and the Evolution of Analytics