Just 15% of organisations rate their data quality as “high or very high” yet only 30% of businesses deploy data quality tools to improve the situation, according to research from consulting firm The Inofrmation Difference.

The research among senior IT executives (principally CIOs and chief architects) looked at the take-up and adoption of Master Data Management (MDM) software. It found 21% of respondents thought poor data quality was costing their firm Between £5 million and £50 million a year, while just 14% of companies thought that costs directly attributable to poor master data were less than £500, 000 a year.

A key problem for organisations trying to get to grips with data is the proliferation of databases in an organisation.

Only one percent of those surveyed had a unified source for their master data, suggesting the overwhelming majority of firms are only taking their first steps in addressing this vital business issue.

The median number of systems holding customer data was six and for product data was nine, but 13% of companies have over 100 systems storing customer data, and 11% have over 100 systems storing product data, The Information Difference reported.

“We often hear that MDM is a key concern for CIOs, yet there’s still very little actually being done about it,” said Andy Hayler, CEO, The Information Difference. “Given the huge costs some firms are experiencing, surely it’s time the situation changed. The business case for tackling master data management is stronger than ever.”

As an example of problem, Hayler highlighted the difficulties organisations had in even agreeing a common definition for profit margins. More than one third of respondents claimed they don't calculate profit margins consistently across the organisation, according to the survey.

“Over half the senior IT executives we spoke to weren’t consistently sure whose spreadsheet has the correct data,” said Hayler.

Of the CIOs planning to implement an MDM system, 47% intend to buy a package, 18% will build in-house and the rest are not sure.

Some 59% said they wanted a unified platform that could deal with all types of master data (“cross domain”) compared to just 14% who preferred hubs that specialise in specific data types such as customer and product.

The report from The Information Difference complements newly released research and analysis from Aberdeen Group.

Aberdeen Group believes one main reason why many enterprises' interest in master data management initiatives is growing is because it can fix basic errors made by the IT department in the past.

An Aberdeen survey, Master Data Management: The Approach Determines Results, of more than 400 end-user organizations published in May, asked them how they were leveraging MDM solutions to "improve their information integration, access, sharing and management."

The top business driver cited by 46 percent of the respondents, was "inadequate performance of the existing data management infrastructure."

Aberdeen then prompted the respondents to cite the original business pressure that made them implement their data management infrastructures in the first place. The pressures include:

  • competitive growth and profitability (61 percent);
  • increasing customer demands (40 percent);
  • high data management costs (32 percent);
  • regulatory compliance (23 percent);
  • low sales conversions (22 percent);
  • customer defections (15 percent).

Aberdeen analysts suggested, there was a noticeable disconnect between the top drivers for data management and MDM initiatives. That can be explained by "looking a little more deeply into the data," the analysts note, which reveals a surprising trend.

"Eighty-nine percent of users surveyed indicate that their data-management projects began with an in-house solution," states the research brief. "Of those, nearly half have since moved to an MDM platform solution."

In other words, roughly half of those enterprises that tried going it on their own have had limited success and have since sought an MDM vendor's assistance with a packaged solution.

However, the survey data showed that all end-user organizations achieved "some degree of improvement through the use of MDM" initiatives, whether a vendor was involved or not.

To arrive at that conclusion, the key performance indicators (KPIs) measured by the survey on the internal side included: data retrieval and information access; cross-channel information sharing; automated data management and integration; and managing structured or unstructured data.

That, in turn, led to improvements in key customer-related metrics, such as customer retention and customer growth; and cross-sell and up-sell revenue, according to the Aberdeen research brief.

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