Unfortunately we've got a long way to go and a lot to learn. Data quality and governance aren't one-time projects and no organization can tackle them all at once. Companies must establish a quality culture - an ongoing, continuous process - and to be successful, each company's journey must be an evolutionary one. They must take small, manageable and measurable steps.
Data management is typically somebody else's problem - until something bad happens.
The quality, accessibility and usability of data drive every company's bottom line, but it rarely captures the attention of executives. Creative marketing campaigns, mergers and outsourcing are much hotter topics that can create the sales spikes or cost-cutting that shareholders like to see.
Now imagine how any of these high-visibility efforts can fail with unreliable data. That creative marketing campaign might cost too much per sale if the customer list is riddled with redundant, incomplete customer records. Buying another company to gain new customers is an expensive mistake if the purchased company turns out to share the same customer base. Poor data quality has a huge impact on organizations, as Gartner's Donald Feinberg reiterates: 'Through 2011, 75% of organizations will experience significantly reduced revenue growth potential and increased costs due to the failure to introduce data quality assurance'¦'
Even with the billions of dollars invested in sophisticated information management applications, CEOs are still getting hopelessly burned by poorly managed data. In early 2008, the French bank SociÃ©tÃ© GÃ©nÃ©rale took $7 billion in losses after rogue trader Jerome Kerviel made months worth of unauthorized trades - wiping out all the profits they'd made in the past three years. Kerviel covered his tracks by manipulating the company's computer systems, but better data control and consistent monitoring would have uncovered the illegal trades well before $7 billion evaporated.
Many of the problems that corporations experience with regulatory authorities, especially in the area of internal fraud, can be avoided with better data management.
However, while it's easy to dwell on the negatives when it comes to data because those cases make the headlines, it's important to note that properly managed information can drive productivity, innovation and the bottom line. Now think about it - isn't it time you got to know your company's data?