Master data errors can cost you millions

How good is your organisation's data? New research suggests it is worse than most IT departments would care to admit, and that amounts to a heavy toll on costs and profits.


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.

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