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Dirty Data: A Trickle, then a Torrent

You know the feeling when the bathroom faucet begins to leak. It starts as a slow drip, almost imperceptible. After a while it picks up in intensity and frequency until it wakes you up at 3:00 a.m. Then you finally decide to do something about it.

Like the dripping faucet, data doesn’t go bad all at once. Rather, it does so slowly and almost imperceptibly: a couple of transposed characters here and there, a few missing email addresses, contact information that goes out of date, and duplicates. Before long, your ability to get your message out, contact key clients and prospects, or fill the top of the sales funnel becomes severely compromised. According to Experian, human error accounts for about 60 percent of all dirty data. Think about that the next time you’re on the phone with a friendly contact center service rep.

Just as the leaky pipe is hidden behind a wall, the true scope of the dirty data problem can remain undetected for years, until it is exposed. Research suggests that most bad data is uncovered by customers or prospects. That hardly instills confidence in those who pay the bills. That, coupled with the fact that fewer than 20 percent of business executives have confidence in the data that informs their decisions.

Is dirty data simply an intractable problem, and its affects just an acceptable cost of doing business?  When you consider that bad data costs U.S companies alone up to 27 percent of their revenue in the form of wasted resources, lost productivity, cancelled orders, and poor customer retention, it would seem that a continuous data maintenance program should be at the top of the budget agenda.

Data is at the heart of every company’s operation and keeping it as clean as possible should be the highest priority. Continuous data maintenance will help keep the trickle of dirty data from becoming a torrent.