An Inflated Sense of Data Confidence

How Businesses Can Close the Gap on Data Quality Challenges

Tue Dec 12 10:47:00 EST 2017

If I were to ask you how well you do your job, how would you answer? Most people rank themselves high, agreeing that they’re successful at using corporate resources to perform at a high level.

We recently asked this same question to 800 senior-level professionals who influence the data and analytics decisions within their organization. Unsurprisingly, the majority of those we surveyed believed they were successful at managing data and analytics initiatives, specifically around maintaining the quality of the data as it changes (84 percent); improving the quality and accuracy of the data (80 percent); and providing self-service data access to visualizations (80 percent).

As I mentioned in a recent blog I wrote, I’ve been in the data business my entire career. I’ve watched the industry evolve, particularly in the last decade, as more business leaders find value in data and its ability to drive real business outcomes. Throughout this evolution, I’ve also witnessed the struggles my clients (and co-workers) have had finding, accessing and using data—and, despite the positive response from survey participants, my personal experience tells me this is an inflated sense of confidence.

Today, we released a survey, commissioned by Forrester Consulting, titled “Digital Is Driving The Next Generation Of Data Marketplaces,” which begins to peel back the layers to uncover just how confident business professionals are in the data they use each day. What we found was that, while participants say they are using customer data (and using it well), the same respondents also identify data as one of the largest sources of problems for them.

Specifically, improving the quality and accuracy of data (70 percent); maintaining the quality of data as it changes (69 percent); and improving the ability to detect and track changes in data (69 percent) were identified as the biggest pain points for the survey participants.

I find this feedback fascinating because it identifies a real problem in the data market that many haven’t considered before: data lineage.

As consumers, we often make purchases based on what we know about that product, who made, or who owned it before us. In today’s data climate, businesses are purchasing data that they’re unable to track over time. There’s no clear indication of how it was gathered, what changes were made to it along the way, or if it’s still up to date. The lack of visibility into the data lineage and how it’s been managed over time is causing a lack of confidence by business leaders that the data they’re using is truly valuable.

Data providers have a significant opportunity to improve data quality and accuracy, and evolve how people are implementing it within their business applications. There are three key areas in which data providers can deliver better data that will enhance consumer data confidence:

1.       Data Management is a critical aspect to delivering a single, coherent, and complete view of a customer. Consumers engage with businesses in multiple ways, and often businesses capture these engagements in multiple silos. Businesses must invest in data management tools that remove the silos and create a holistic view of a customer that captures engagements across the entire portfolio. The Pitney Bowes flagship Spectrum solution is used globally across verticals to help organizations manage and process millions of pieces of customer information in real time, and create a single view of a customer.

2.       Context is what gives meaning to data. It’s easy to capture information about a customer when they interact with your business, but what do you know about them after the interaction is over? Attributing additional information like spatial information, demographic data or even lifestyle information provides a bigger picture of your customer that can give better insight into how to interact with them. In our recently launched GeoEnrichment product, Pitney Bowes offers 6700 attributes that can be pinned to any location in the U.S.

3.       Metadata and Confidence Scoring gives businesses immediate insight into the quality and accuracy of data, before they purchase it. As more businesses look to access third-party data, they will need to partner with vendors who have a longstanding history in data accuracy and precision. Pitney Bowes has processed names and addresses for nearly 100 years, and currently maintains a U.S. address location database with 180 million addresses. Similarly, we now offer the pbKey, a unique identifier associated with individual datasets that can be used to help tie information from one address source to master records, ultimately allowing us to communicate individual addresses with our clients confidently.

I believe that we’re at a truly pivotal point in the digital market. We’re no longer convincing business leaders of the importance of data. Data to them is the new bacon—they all want it. However, business leaders want good, quality data. Data providers, and Pitney Bowes, have an opportunity to help provide businesses with quality data that can be tracked and scored to confidence.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pitney Bowes data, visit our data portfolio.

You can also download the full report.