New research figures reveal wide differences in who is responsible for the upkeep and accuracy for data held within enterprise databases. Eighty-six per cent of the survey respondents from companies across France, Germany and the UK allow employees outside of the IT department to access the corporate database, whilst nearly a third (32 per cent) allows access and modification rights to all employees.

Findings from the same research, which surveyed more than 600 IT, sales and marketing professionals found that almost all (94 per cent) sales and marketing professionals work in departments that own at least one database which they manage and maintain themselves. Among respondents, on average, they own, manage and maintain nine separate databases per company, and in companies with 1000+ employees this figure rises still further.

The practical management of corporate databases, which play host to masses of information on a daily basis, and the definition of policies on how to effectively harness and govern this data does not seem to follow any set pattern. At best, this could represent a missed opportunity to get ahead of the competition, but at worst it is a plethora of missed customer opportunities waiting to happen, or already happening.

The research also suggests such bad practice may be fostering other troublesome habits, creating a vicious circle of IT and information mayhem as 80 per cent of sales and marketing departments confessed to purchasing software without going through the official IT or procurement department channels. More worryingly, this behaviour seems to be condoned by nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) director-level staff who relate to the desire to do this. Indeed, 34 per cent of the survey sample thinks making purchase decisions directly cuts down on internal bureaucracy.

Further research findings indicated that:

  • In 37 per cent of companies the top management have read-write access, while 25 per cent allow general admin staff the same privileges
  • German companies tend to be more open in allowing access and modification rights to more employees
  • Smaller companies, too, tend to allow more employees to do as they wish with corporate databases

With no-one taking the reigns and with many organisations suffering from unknown data blind spots, IT departments are at risk of losing control of one of the enterprise’s most valuable assets. This in turn poses a worrying question; if the IT department isn’t in control of this data, who exactly is?

Only half (52 per cent) of sales and marketing professionals answered the same question by acknowledging the IT department precedence (UK: 44 per cent; Germany: 48 per cent; France: 63 per cent), while 28 per cent thought that ownership rests with individual departments. Just 17% think it rests with all employees.

What is truly shocking is that it seems that IT professionals are generally in agreement: 50 per cent believe database and data ownership lies with IT, but 20 per cent think it rests with all employees and another 27 per cent think it is with individual departments. These findings reveal a serious disconnect in enterprise attitudes towards ownership of this valuable data.

Many companies seem to have recognised the importance of keeping up-to-date and accurate databases, and using the data within them to gain an advantage over potential competitors by utilising their data assets. But until they put in place – and stick to – clearly defined data policies governing their maintenance, none will reap the benefits of having their house truly in order.