Category Archives: Scorecarding
In a previous life, I was a pastry chef in a now-defunct restaurant. One of the things I noticed while working there (and frankly while cooking at home) is that the better the ingredients, the better the final result. If we used poor quality apples in the apple tart, we ended up with a soupy, flavorless mess with a chewy crust.
The same analogy can be applied to Data Analytics. With poor quality data, you get poor results from your analytics projects. We all know that companies that can implement fantastic analytic solutions that can provide near real-time access to consumer trends are the same companies that can do successful targeted marketing campaigns that are of the minute. The Data Warehousing Institute estimates that data quality problems cost U.S. businesses more than $600 billion a year.
The business impact of poor data quality cannot be underestimated. If not identified and corrected early on, defective data can contaminate all downstream systems and information assets, jacking up costs, jeopardizing customer relationships, and causing imprecise forecasts and poor decisions.
- To help you quantify: Let’s say your company receives 2 million claims per month with 377 data elements per claim. Even at an error rate of .001, the claims data contains more than 754,000 errors per month and more than 9.04 million errors per year! If you determine that 10 percent of the data elements are critical to your business decisions and processes, you still must fix almost 1 million errors each year!
- What is your exposure to these errors? Let’s estimate the risk at $10 per error (including staff time required to fix the error downstream after a customer discovers it, the loss of customer trust and loyalty and erroneous payouts. Your company’s risk exposure to poor quality claims data is $10 million a year.
Once your company values quality data as a critical resource – it is much easier to perform high-value analytics that have an impact on your bottom line. Start with creation of a Data Quality program. Data is a critical asset in the information economy, and the quality of a company’s data is a good predictor of its future success.
Maybe the word “death” is a bit strong, so let’s say “demise” instead. Recently I read an article in the Harvard Business Review around how Big Data and Data Scientists will rule the world of the 21st century corporation and how they have to operate for maximum value. The thing I found rather disturbing was that it takes a PhD – probably a few of them – in a variety of math areas to give executives the necessary insight to make better decisions ranging from what product to develop next to who to sell it to and where.
Don’t get me wrong – this is mixed news for any enterprise software firm helping businesses locate, acquire, contextually link, understand and distribute high-quality data. The existence of such a high-value role validates product development but it also limits adoption. It is also great news that data has finally gathered the attention it deserves. But I am starting to ask myself why it always takes individuals with a “one-in-a-million” skill set to add value. What happened to the democratization of software? Why is the design starting point for enterprise software not always similar to B2C applications, like an iPhone app, i.e. simpler is better? Why is it always such a gradual “Cold War” evolution instead of a near-instant French Revolution?
Why do development environments for Big Data not accommodate limited or existing skills but always accommodate the most complex scenarios? Well, the answer could be that the first customers will be very large, very complex organizations with super complex problems, which they were unable to solve so far. If analytical apps have become a self-service proposition for business users, data integration should be as well. So why does access to a lot of fast moving and diverse data require scarce PIG or Cassandra developers to get the data into an analyzable shape and a PhD to query and interpret patterns?
I realize new technologies start with a foundation and as they spread supply will attempt to catch up to create an equilibrium. However, this is about a problem, which has existed for decades in many industries, such as the oil & gas, telecommunication, public and retail sector. Whenever I talk to architects and business leaders in these industries, they chuckle at “Big Data” and tell me “yes, we got that – and by the way, we have been dealing with this reality for a long time”. By now I would have expected that the skill (cost) side of turning data into a meaningful insight would have been driven down more significantly.
Informatica has made a tremendous push in this regard with its “Map Once, Deploy Anywhere” paradigm. I cannot wait to see what’s next – and I just saw something recently that got me very excited. Why you ask? Because at some point I would like to have at least a business-super user pummel terabytes of transaction and interaction data into an environment (Hadoop cluster, in memory DB…) and massage it so that his self-created dashboard gets him/her where (s)he needs to go. This should include concepts like; “where is the data I need for this insight?’, “what is missing and how do I get to that piece in the best way?”, “how do I want it to look to share it?” All that is required should be a semi-experienced knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint to get your hands on advanced Big Data analytics. Don’t you think? Do you believe that this role will disappear as quickly as it has surfaced?
When I talk to customers about dealing with poor data quality, I consistently hear something like, “We know we have data quality problems, but we can’t get the business to help take ownership and do something about it.” I think that this is taking the easy way out. Throwing your hands up in the air doesn’t make change happen – it only prolongs the pain. If you want to affect a positive change in data quality and are looking for ways to engage the business, then you should join Barbara Latulippe, Director of Enterprise Information Management for EMC and and Kristen Kokie, VP IT Enterprise Strategic Services for Informatica for our webinar on Thursday October 24th to hear how they have dealt with data quality in their combined 40+ years in IT.
Now, understandably, tackling data quality problems is no small undertaking, and it isn’t easy. In many instances, the reason why organizations choose to do nothing about data quality is that bad data has been present for so long that manual work around efforts have become ingrained in the business processes for consuming data. In these cases, changing the way people do things becomes the largest obstacle to dealing with the root cause of the issues. But that is also where you will be able to find the costs associated with bad data: lost productivity, ineffective decision making, missed opportunities, etc..
As discussed in this previous webinar,(link to replay on the bottom of the page), successfully dealing with poor data quality takes initiative, and it takes communication. IT Departments are the engineers of the business: they are the ones who understand process and workflows; they are the ones who build the integration paths between the applications and systems. Even if they don’t own the data, they do end up owning the data driven business processes that consume data. As such, IT is uniquely positioned to provide customized suggestions based off of the insight from multiple previous interactions with the data.
Bring facts to the table when talking to the business. As those who directly interact daily with data, IT is in position to measure and monitor data quality, to identify key data quality metrics; data quality scorecards and dashboards can shine a light on bad data and directly relate it to the business via the downstream workflows and business processes. Armed with hard facts about impact on specific business processes, a Business user has an easier time affixing a dollar value on the impact of that bad data. Here’s some helpful resources where you can start to build your case for improved data quality. With these tools and insight, IT can start to affect change.
Data is becoming the lifeblood of organizations and IT organizations have a huge opportunity to get closer to the business by really knowing the data of the business. While data quality invariably involves technological intervention, it is more so a process and change management issue that ends up being critical to success. The easier it is to tie bad data to specific business processes, the more constructive the conversation can be with the Business.
Ever wondered if an initiative is worth the effort? Ever wondered how to quantify its worth? This is a loaded question as you may suspect but I wanted to ask it nevertheless as my team of Global Industry Consultants work with clients around the world to do just that (aka Business Value Assessment or BVA) for solutions anchored around Informatica’s products.
As these solutions typically involve multiple core business processes stretching over multiple departments and leveraging a legion of technology components like ETL, metadata management, business glossary, BPM, data virtualization, legacy ERP, CRM and billing systems, it initially sounds like a daunting level of complexity. Opening this can of worms may end up in a measurement fatigue (I think I just discovered a new medical malaise.) (more…)
Following up from my previous post on 2011 reflections, it’s now time to take a look at the year ahead and consider what key trends will likely impact the world of data quality as we know it. As I mentioned in my previous post, we saw continued interest in data quality across all industries and I expect that trend to only continue to pick up steam in 2012. Here are three areas in particular that I foresee will rise to the surface: (more…)
I recently had the opportunity to meet with the board of directors for a large distribution company here in the U.S. On the table for discussion were data quality and data governance, and how a focus on both could help the organization gain competitive advantage in the market. While I was happy to see that this company had tied data quality and data governance to help meet their corporate objectives, that’s not what caught my attention. Instead, what impressed me the most was how the data quality and data governance champion had effectively helped the rest of the board see that there WAS a direct link, and that with careful focus they could drive better business outcomes than they could without a focus on data at all. As it turns out, the path to success for the champion was to focus on articulating the link between trusted data — governed effectively — and the company’s ability to excel financially, manage costs, limit its risk exposure and maintain trust with its customers. (more…)
Gartner recently released their 2011 Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools and I’m happy to announce that Informatica is positioned in the Leaders’ quadrant. We believe our position is a testament to the fact that customers like Station Casinos and U.S. Xpress continue to turn to Informatica to solve their most critical data quality challenges.
The publishing of the Magic Quadrant is often a great opportunity to reflect on the state of the data quality market. It should come as no surprise that data quality as a business imperative isn’t going away any time soon. We are continuing to see customers looking for help and expertise in solving a wide range of data quality problems, largely associated with data governance initiatives, master data management (MDM), business intelligence and application modernization. And the association of data quality in these areas is only getting stronger. (more…)
One of the key themes of the Informatica 9.1 release is Authoritative and Trustworthy data. To set the stage, consider the imperatives that organizations are driving such as becoming more customer-centric to drive top line revenue, or optimize just-in-time procurement to drive costs out of the business, or comply with new Dodd Frank regulations. Not only do all these imperatives require organizations to be able to deliver business value faster and faster, but they span the organization across Lines of Business and geographies. In particular they require reliable global business processes and analytics to succeed, and that means that they need trusted data. For example, Procure-to-Pay processes and decisions rely on data across product data, vendor data, and financial data, and that data has to be trusted, meaning that it’s essential to have consistent, correct, and complete vendor price and performance data in order to determine preferred vendors and negotiate better contracts. (more…)