Data Quality Issues – How They Affect Security & Your Bottom Line

by Leah Livingston

Last week, we brought to light some data quality issues that are affecting all aspects of the organization. You probably asked yourself, “Wait, our poor data quality is affecting our security posture, as well as our profit margin?”

The short answer is, absolutely. Remember our examples? It’s not just slow onboarding or poorly allocated marketing spend. It’s wasted dev resources that could have been spent building out a honeynet to track bad actors’ behavior. It’s a bad experience with the customer support team that leads to a higher attrition rate of customers, meaning more sales are needed on the frontend. It’s manual deprovisioning of accounts that should have been automated, meaning HR could have spent that time finding great people to join the team. It’s extra time needed from managers to clean up reporting that could have been used to train up new employees. 

When data quality isn’t managed well or centrally, it leads to holes in the organization. Rather than moving like a well-oiled machine, it becomes like herding cats. 

So how do we fix data quality issues?

It is easier said than done, but really it’s about getting buy-in from all stakeholders and then making a plan together. Your data quality is a measure of factors including: accuracy, completeness, consistency, reliability and whether it is up-to-date. If standards, policies and procedures exist to ensure stakeholders can’t get “lazy”, the data will always be in a good place. But we all know data owners might not be onboard to clean-up issues or won’t make it a priority due to other daily responsibilities. That doesn’t mean they have poor intentions. It means each stakeholder probably doesn’t understand “the why” of its importance. It means data quality needs to come from the top down. 

Explain to your C-Suite level team why data quality issues are affecting their year end bonuses because the company is losing profit margin due to unnecessary spending. Have the C-level execs explain to their Directors why it’s making reporting more of a manual process than necessary and leading to inaccuracies that affect the budget allocated for their department. Have Directors explain to their Managers why the improperly allocated budget is reducing the number of people that can be hired. Have Managers explain to the team why the inability to hire more people is leading to so much workload. 

See how data quality affects everyone downstream? It’s downstream, but it’s also cross-departmental collaboration that improves as well. 

Take This Real Life Example

I had an amazing manager in a previous role that helped our inside sales team understand data quality from a lead generation perspective. He said, “Hey, the more notes you put in the CRM, and the more fields you complete, the more accurate information our marketing team will have to understand how to bring you more leads.” We didn’t believe him in the beginning, but he was right.

After a couple months of diligent logging, the marketing team discovered they could reduce our online advertising budget from $300,000 a month, down to $50,000 and allocated that additional spend towards fostering stronger partner relationships. We watched the number of leads coming in quadruple, and our commission checks saw similar results. That’s right, $3 million dollars in annual fixed costs were reduced for the company, and our commission checks quadrupled. It was awesome, not just for us on the sales team, but for the marketing department’s overall strategy and efforts, as well as the company’s profit margin.

The experience improved for everyone, including the customer support team on the backend. Because our success managers and support specialists had more information about each customer’s background, the development team learned of easy ways to improve the product. Because the development team had more information, the security team was able to implement more secure processes that made logging into to our various systems a SSO process. No more passwords!

So, now that you’re listening, how do you get started?

We could go on, but then we’d have an entire book on data quality, and this is only supposed to be a quick read. If you’re looking for process improvements, happier customers and employees, and efficient security policies, that is exactly the type of things we do at Idenhaus. We love to solve problems that improve the experience for all your stakeholders. Schedule some time to meet with one of our consultants to see how we can improve your profit margin through data quality management.

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