Experian Data Quality’s annual Global data management benchmark report shows that while data supports major business initiatives, the level of data accuracy is lower than required. Without trusted data, well-informed business decisions cannot be made.

Businesses leverage data to increase revenue and better serve their customers. In fact, 84% of US organizations say they believe data is an integral part of forming a business strategy.

However, organizations lack confidence in their data. On average, businesses believe 27% of their data is inaccurate, and the C-suite estimates error levels to be even higher.

Experian’s study revealed that 52% of organizations rely on educated guesses or gut feelings to make decisions based on their data. While businesses are starting to make strides in improving the problem, many of the efforts are based in departmental silos and lack consistency across data sources.

This is due, in part, to the difficulty of building a compelling business case for an enterprise-wide data quality program.

Thomas Schutz, senior vice president and general manager for Experian Data Quality (pictured above) said: “Businesses talk a great deal about being data-driven, but most lack the trusted, reliable data they need to effectively leverage information to drive new initiatives.

“Good data is good for business. We know that when we help organizations make improvements to their data, they see positive results. However, organizations need to develop an understanding of their data assets and speak a common language around data so the necessary investment can be made in a holistic data management practice.”

The study, which polled more than 1,400 data professionals across eight countries around the globe, showed that many organizations struggle with inconsistent, legacy data management practices.

Based in silos

Some 82% of organizations have less than optimum data management practices, leaving significant room for improvement. Many businesses lack data-specific roles, and data quality programs are hindered by departmental silos.

Schutz stressed: “big challenge is that many existing data management strategies are based on individual departmental silos or sit primarily within IT organizations. However, data usage is shifting out of IT and into the business. In fact, 70% of organizations globally believe the responsibility for ongoing data quality ultimately should lie with the business, with occasional help from IT.

“Business units want to take control of their data assets and leverage data for specific departmental purposes like reporting or analytics. The IT department may not always know the context under which certain data was created or acquired, nor do they know the intended uses for that data down the road.

“Legacy data management practices can be updated to take into account the business user, keeping ease-of-use and cross-departmental collaboration.”

Other key findings in the research included:

• 62% of organizations say the IT department has the greatest influence on how data is handled;

• 73% of C-level executives indicate that inaccurate data is undermining their ability to provide an excellent customer experience; and

• 85% of organizations globally experienced more timely and personalized customer communications as a result of improving their data quality solution.