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How You Can Better Ensure Your Data Integrity

Data Integrity Diagram

You will output what you input. Gathering data is no longer a problem. Today’s difficult task is maintaining, updating, and ensuring that your data is correct. If only there was a way to make sure that your data was real time and accurate. . . A way to ensure that your data wasn’t junk.

Data is easy to create. Back before most everybody became digital there was a desk full of papers and documents. Now there is an email box that is overflowing or a drive somewhere that holds information. Questions are still asked, “How much are we making on?” or “What’s the expected outcome of…?” and the answer in these situations is probably still, “I know it’s here somewhere…”

There are simple solutions to clean up and make sure that your data isn’t junk.

Know Your Questions

Recognizing where you need a solution will help to guide data collection and interpretation. Out of all of the data and analytics strategies reviewed by Gartner in 2015 and 2016 only 15 percent held solid business outcomes. The approach of “collect now, analyze later” can lead to lots of unnecessary data or . . . lots of junk. Considering business needs and how collected data will help to achieve strategies and goals is necessary to gain the best information. The ability to provide strict oversight will also enable errors to be caught before bad data is used to make important decisions. This progressive approach offers a way to streamline data management. Enabling businesses to make sure the answers derived from data are correct and worthwhile.

Watch out for bias! Collecting only data that supports one point of view or outcome, or data that excludes or over-represents a group results in bad data. The data gathered in these results may favor a desired outcome but will do so incorrectly. To get results that are unbiased businesses can ask questions that are as specific as possible to help avoid measurement error. Unrepresentative samples are avoidable by taking care to account for certain population members like subgroups. There are also common statistical practices like cluster sampling, systematic sampling, etc. that can be followed to get impartial results. Failure to look for and to do anything about bias can end in data working against you instead of for you.

Automate to Get Answers

Back to those documents and emails. . . Developing questions that need answers is only part of the battle. Automation is the key to unlock the mystery data held inside of these digital tools.

Once you know the questions you want answered keeping searchable, reportable, relevant data becomes the new task. Automation allows for workflow development that will help to not only consistently answer, but also to record, monitor, and follow-up on the answers. Ensuring that your data is business intelligence that leads to success.

Use the Cloud

Businesses fail to capitalize on data because it is hard to integrate between applications and teams. The cloud is a great resource because it creates bridges between information and people. By utilizing the cloud data can easily be maintained, shared, and reported on across departments and locations. This allows for not only a big picture view, but also greater data integrity and improved communication.

Data integrity is better maintained on the cloud because information only has to be entered once to be shared across departments and locations. The ability to control access as well as to track any contacts with data also helps to maintain integrity. Businesses are able to minimize the risk of manual errors, optimize workflow efficiency, and remove the wait time for task implementation. Assuring accuracy and consistency of data over its entire life-cycle.

The cloud also improves communication because data is more easily shared. The ability to see data from conception through the different stages of development before it comes to your desk is necessary to discover errors that lead to bad data and costly mistakes. The cloud enables users to collaborate and take advantage of this big picture view while utilizing data anytime from anywhere.

The ability to ensure your data integrity or that your data isn’t junk requires consistent effort. Tools like the cloud and automation help to ease manual efforts and to assure data reliability. By structuring data collection around what is relevant, significant, and compliant businesses are better able to lessen unwanted risk and the costs accompanying those risks. Allowing for a better answer than “I know it’s here somewhere…”

Sources:

Taking a Systematic Approach – Why It Matters in the World of Automation – Jim Manias – IT Pro Portal – 9/20/17
Why the Convergence of Two Trends Will Alter the Way Businesses Manage Data – David Jones – Forbes – 8/28/17
Math Isn’t Biased, But Big Data Is. – Meta S. Brown – Forbes – 8/30/2017
Do You Really Have Big Data, or Just Too Much Data? – Brain Lee – Information Week – 9/12/16
Big Data Detective: Can You Tell Good Data from Bad? – Lisa Wirthman – Forbes – 7/24/15
Three Steps to Telling a Good Information Yield Story – Susan Moore – Gartner – 2/23/16