The Feb 27th issue of the Economist has a wonderful article about managing information titled “Data Deluge”. It highlight the challenge and opportunity of the every increasing amounts of information that we have in our corporate world. The amount of data the an average business collects and stores is doubling each year. Most companies today produce multiple terabytes of information every year. As data volume increases, so does the opportunities. This information enables us to do things that were previously could not be done: spot business trends in real-time, identify our best customers, reduce our corporate spend and so on.A great example of this is Best Buy. The customer database is 15TB housing information about 100 million individuals and 7 years of transactional history. They were able to mine this to identify their best customers. Turns out 7% of their customers account for 43% of their sales. Focusing on these 7%, helped Best Buy increase same store sales by 8.4% and overall revenue by at least 12% every year starting in 2005 including the recession.The challenge is that the majority of data in corporate databases is historical and infrequently accessed because most business users don’t have the know how or tools to access to mine this data for insights.Question to the audience:Are you happy with the performance of your reports and analytics? If you are, raise your hand.
Most likely you face similar data challenges limiting your ability to know your business. Siloed– With data scattered across your organization in different ERP, database, or homegrown systems; you may likely find different versions of the truth limiting your ability to gain a complete view of the businessInaccurate – Have you ever received a promotion mail addressed to someone in your mailbox? Consider the wasted marketing costs (in printed material and postage) for a company that leverages customer promotions as a source of revenue generation. Data is inherently dirty because things change and your business requirements continue to evolve to meet your goals. As a result, you need ongoing maintenance of your data quality by both the business and IT stakeholders. Common issues like incorrect customer names, addresses, and product names only add to the challenge for organizations to resolve before they can leverage their corporate data as an enterprise asset. Inconsistent – Definitions of common business entities like customers, products, supplier, material names and codes vary from system to system creating inconsistencies that data access alone can not address. You need a better way to reconcile this. Incomplete – Another common data challenge is incompleteness. A customer record may be missing a postal code or country code and would be unusable unless it is appended with the correct data.Inaccessible – Connectivity will allow you to get access to the data in your enterprise systems but often times, this is only the beginning. Making dirty data accessible does not necessarily help you leverage that information for a business goal. Sometimes the data is in a format that is unstructured like a free form text coming from a CRM call log. The challenge lies in how to unlock insights and the potential from all of your data sources.
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