Grass roots Data Quality Management as a catalyst for innovation
Most organisations irrespective of size have data quality issues. A study by Omikron involving 200 business managers found that almost half of those questioned said the quality of their data was measuring at a confidence level of below 60%, with just 7% having a level of 90% or more. These issues degrade and delay decision making and often add risk and cost to day to day activities. The last thing professionals with a busy day want is to be scrubbing data before they can start working productively. One often overlooked point however is that widespread data quality issues also inhibits creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation at a grass roots level within organisations.
Most of us at some point in our careers have been required to build or enhance ‘creative’ solutions to common operational challenges that businesses face. It’s not always possible to wait for a well-defined project or the IT department to implement a strategic solution. Sometimes it’s not even clear whether a strategic solution is feasible hence the need to act creatively and prototype a solution. These often manifest as the Access databases, monolithic Excel spreadsheets and other intimidating, outdated solutions. They keep a business running but can often create more problems than they solve when they begin to affect data quality and indirectly inhibit innovation.
Paradigm changing discoveries are often made accidentally by those with a curiosity and access to suitably clean data. There are numerous examples of these throughout history ranging from industrial innovations such as microwave ovens and Teflon to scientific discoveries such as Sommer’s link between Vitamin A deficiency and blindness. Its difficult enough to place a value on these innovations let alone estimate the opportunity cost of data quality issues preventing their discovery in the first place. Clearly however there is a link between enterprise wide high quality data and an organisational culture that fosters employee innovation and creativity. Google allocate 20% of employee’s time to ‘innovation’ side projects which have led to some of their most profitable products such as Google News, GMail, GoogleEarth and Google Maps Street View. Imagine if your organisation could fund this innovation capacity purely through Data Quality Management time savings.