The Cost of Bad Data

Mike Sebastian, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at SourceCheck….and a great guy to boot, has recently had an article published on InsideARM titled “The Cost of Dirty Data to Accounts Receivable Managers“.

I met Mike for a Coke recently and the conversation turned to bad data and what it costs organizations annually.  He told me about his recent article and send the link over…and I was amazed I what I read. The article discusses the cost of bad data and gives some interesting statistics, such as:

The Data Warehousing Institute (DWI) estimates the cost of bad or ‘dirty’ data exceeds $600 billion annually. Another study indicates that 2% of contact records become obsolete each month, costing a firm 15-20 % of its operating income

$600 Billion annually!!

The article is an interesting read all by itself…but Mike hit upon a subject in the article that i’ve written about in the past (see Aligning Business & Technology with People and Information Technology Leadership & Alignment for examples).  In the article, Mike writes the following:

I am amazed at how very smart business people treat technology-related problems as somehow different. We in the technical world can get immersed in computer jargon, endless acronyms, special handshakes, etc.; keep the conversation on business results. Ask a lot of seemingly naïve questions. If your technical services person insists on giving you technical answers, speak with a supervisor or find another resource – period. Information technology is no different from any other tool in your office; it ultimately supports your bottom line.

Go back and read that…especially the sentence that says “keep the conversation on business results”.

So many times in the IT space, we tend to get off in the weeds about technology and ‘solutions’….when we should be focusing on the business requirements first.  The best technology in the world won’t help if you don’t know what the business requirements are or if bad data is clouding your judgement.

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A study on top IT Management Concerns

According to the Wall Street Journal Business Technology Blog, the Society for Information Management has reportedly released a report on a study conducted with 300 IT Executives.  The results aren’t surprising but worth sharing.

I looked around the web and couldn’t find details on the research so I’ll have to assume that WSJ did their homework for their story 🙂 If anyone has a link to the SIM study, please share.

According to the WSJ post, the results are:

  • IT and business alignment – industry talk for making sure that the projects an IT department pursues match what a business needs – came in number one, a position its held in five of the last six annual surveys.

Some additional topics that were worth reporting:

  • IT departments may be through the worst of the economic downturn. Whereas last year reducing cost was the number-four priority, this year it’s dropped to number seven. Strategic planning climbed five spots – from eight to three – showing that tech execs are focused more on making do with what they have than making cuts.
  • One place tech execs may have already made cuts: their staffs. Last year, attracting new talent was tied for the number one concern. This year, it dropped to number four. Retaining workers was the other concern that shared the top spot and this year it’s dropped to number eight.

Looks like an interesting study.  WSJ interviewed Jerry Luftman, who conducted the survey, and got some excellent insight when he said:

In order to have anything resembling long-term alignment, the business has to be just as committed to keeping in tune with IT as IT is with the business

Wow…sounds like something I said recently in a post titled Information Technology Leadership and Alignment. 🙂

Social Networking in the Enterprise

There’s an interesting story on ReadWriteWeb (RWW) and the Wall Street Journal this week about Social Networking failures in the enterprise.

An excerpt from the WSJ:

One of the hot investments for businesses these days is online communities that help customers feel connected to a brand. But most of these efforts produce fancy Web sites that few people ever visit. The problem: Businesses are focusing on the value an online community can provide to themselves, not the community.

Both articles use recent research released by Deloitte.  This research suggests that:

enterprises have begun to effectively use social media tools and online communities to engage with customers and employees for brand discussions, idea generation and product discovery. However, the survey also indicates that while these online initiatives are having a positive impact, enterprises have not yet harnessed the true potential of these communities.

I would agree with the last sentence.  The enterprise hasn’t truly figured out how to use social media tools to engage employees and clients.

WSJ provides a few numbers from the Deloitte study that prove enlightning.

  • Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members
  • Less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects.

Interesting numbers that some can point to as failures of social networking…but I think organizations are coming around on the need for social media but just haven’t figured out how to ‘manage’ these communities.  The Deloitte survey points to poor community management as one of the biggest roadblocks to any organization implementing social media projects.  The research report states

Conversely, poorly managed online communities are a critical barrier to their effectiveness. Forty-five percent of respondents recognize that finding enough time to manage the community is one of the biggest obstacles to making communities work. Survey respondents also see facilitation (25 percent) and quality of the community manager (34 percent) as two features that greatly impact the community’s effectiveness, making it critical for companies to devote the necessary resources to this important role.

So…what this research tells me is that organizations have the technology in place to turn on a social network and they’ve turned them on.  But…very few have figured out that it isn’t the technology that makes a social network a success…it’s the people involved that make it work.

Sounds like many other posts on this blog doesn’t it?  🙂  It isn’t the technology…its the people that will lead you to success.

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