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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.

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Who Notices When Data Is Missing? Your Customers Do.

Research agency Vanson Bourne surveyed 500 IT Managers and CIOs in the UK and found that:

  • One-third of large companies in the UK have lost customers/new business due to missing data
  • Eighty-eight percent of businesses saw data as a strategic asset to their business
  • Fifty-two percent of respondents said their biggest frustration was the complexity around managing multiple data sources

We can make a few assumptions from these results:

  • If businesses knew their data was missing or incomplete, they would do something about it
  • If businesses could somehow tie missing data to real business processes or sales losses, they would get real resources to do something about it
  • When pieces of data—meaningful to a single business process–are spread across multiple data sources, it’s too hard to tell if data is missing or incomplete

And if a set of data is missing entirely, it’s easy to skim right over it without it rising to our consciousness—such is the problem that Vanson Bourne documents.

Step One to Resolving the Missing Data Problem: Good Information Governance

The first step in tackling this dilemma is to learn when data is missing by putting in place tools that allow you to:

  • Access multiple data sources at once
  • Associate a field to a business process
  • Check for nulls or blanks in critical data fields or when conditions arise across multiple data fields from multiple sources
  • Check for incomplete (or shorter-than-expected) data in a critical data fields or when conditions arise across multiple data fields from multiple data sources
  • Notice incomplete data before a transaction tries to complete
  • Require complete data at point-of-entry

You don’t have to lose customers or new business because of missing or incomplete data. The right people and tools are all you need to solve this information governance policy problem, beginning with identifying where you have critical missing data.

Has missing data hurt your business? What policies did you set up to rectify the problem?