Data quality in the enterprise has long been solely about accuracy and real-time access, but a university professor is pushing a new model that better reflects today’s realities, and is making available benchmarks for businesses to determine how financial performance is affected.
“That’s so nineties kind of thinking, my gosh,” said Anitesh Barua, a distinguished teaching professor and lead researcher at the University of Texas in Austin, of traditional data quality models.
Barua has augmented the old data quality model with new attributes like intelligence, remote accessibility and sales mobility (data accessed through sales apps). He then measured 150 global Fortune 500 companies along these attributes as well as their overall performance to create a series of charts and graphs with which companies can measure certain financial metrics that are key indicators of competitiveness, health and profitability.
“Back then if we had accurate data that was good enough. Now we’re asking if there is intelligence in it … is it data or is it actionable information?” said Barua.
The study found that certain data quality attributes have a direct impact on employee productivity, return on equity, return on invested capital, and return on assets, said Barua.
For instance, the report offers guidance such as if a business improves a particular data attribute by X per cent, then the expected benefit with respect to return on assets is Y per cent.
Barua said the advantage of tying data quality to financial metrics is it attracts the attention of the right people. “If we want senior management to be really involved in this stuff — the CEO, CFO, COO — to take notice, we have to demonstrate that when we do these things, ultimately it’s felt at the enterprise level,” he said.
The study also looked at the degree to which each data attribute had been developed in terms of importance and awareness among respondents. Least well-developed was intelligence of data, a finding not surprising to Barua who said data intelligence is much more broad than the narrow sales and customer focus that businesses afford it.
Remote accessibility of data was the most well-developed, considering a workforce that is increasingly mobile and remote.