Data is an organisation’s greatest asset. It generates insight, drives decision-making and provides a solid foundation for growth. But the data you hold is only as good as how clean it is. Given the growing number of data sources and the focus on using it to develop and drive business and marketing strategy, the need for clean data is increasingly important.

Particularly as, from 25th May 2018, companies will face a long list of changes to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, a recent data audit carried out by W8 Data, found that just 25% of existing customer data meets the requirements specified under the GDPR.

Dirty data affects every company, and works its way into databases in many ways. Time itself corrupts a significant amount of data, as customers change jobs, move, or change phone numbers. Additionally, when departments lock up their data in silos, it can lead to incomplete customer profiles. The result? Incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent and duplicate data – all of which leads to lost revenue, wasted marketing efforts, misinformed decisions and, eventually, damaged reputation.

The quantity of data and data sources is growing exponentially and this is only set to speed up, not slow down. Recently, a study by FastMap and Consumer Intelligence discovered that only 35% of organisations have a regular data cleansing process in place. And it’s not surprising, the integrated management of data quality is a daunting challenge for many organisations – but it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to managing your business, the more efficient you are, the better. Dashboards help you to see your most important data at a glance, and monitor its data quality regularly and in real-time. Not convinced? Here are the main business threats from dirty data and how dashboards can help clean them up…

Lost Revenue

According to Experian Quality Data, the average company wastes 12% of revenue due to inaccurate information in their records and despite increased knowledge about this problem, the figure has not changed since 2007. It is vital to understand the value of data to improve business performance, productivity and profitability, and dashboards remove excess information to quickly highlight errors and duplicates. Businesses need to be able to visualise revenue in real-time and be able to spot any unusual patterns or changes in customer spending to uncover when, and why, customers stop buying from you.

With these insights, rather than losing revenue when your customers eventually stop buying, you can reach out before it is too late. It also means that, if customers are gradually buying less over time, you can spot this and look at other ways to generate revenue. By monitoring progress and performance, you can continually adapt according to your market.

Wasted Marketing Efforts

No matter how well thought-out your marketing campaign is, it can’t achieve its goals if decision-making is based on dirty data. Companies that embrace dashboards will find their marketing department is able to make smarter decisions, and more quickly. Dashboards also help you to see the bigger picture, highlighting trends and patterns that were previously out of view.

By easily comparing each marketing channel to one another in a dashboard, you can then easily see which are most effective.  In addition, dashboards can provide the route to real ROI by taking the guesswork out of campaign analytics, meaning marketers can demonstrate true ROI in the growth and effectiveness on marketing spend to senior decision makers investing in their company’s brand.

Misinformed Decisions

The availability of data means organisations no longer have to rely on their intuition and ‘guesstimates’ about their past and current performance.  However, smart and data-driven decisions are impossible when company records are incorrect or out of date; comprehensive reports and effective forecasting rely on clean information. In today’s fast paced and changing business landscape, having a dashboard ensures you can gain a single view of operations to map performance, identify trends and help predict future opportunities or requirements to change priorities.

In addition, today’s board members depend on high-level information, on demand. Dashboards not only enable data to be automated but, if necessary, tailored to individual requirements so each member has only those details crucial to their department, saving them time and effort.

GDPR Protects Customers & Company Reputation

Outdated or incorrect consumer information doesn’t just affect organisations, but their customers too. Not only do today’s customers expect organisations to be able to pull up necessary information and history when they contact them, losing patience very quickly if something is wrong, but they are increasingly aware of their privacy rights. At the heart of GDPR is consumer protection and the new rules will radically alter how data can be collected, stored or deleted. Centralising data in a dashboard gives you one, real-time version of the truth, highlighting any discrepancies in data collection and the explicit consent surrounding personal information, straight away.

GDPR requires organisations to know precisely where they hold every single piece of personal data. Should you suffer a breach, pleading ignorance to  data inconsistencies  or the inaccurate treatment of data, is not a permissible excuse. Therefore, having the ability to quickly pull data from various sources into a dashboard, and understand it, is more important than ever before. The dashboard approach to data management not only offers a great start to GDPR compliance but also the opportunity to uncover and resolve data that is ‘hiding’ throughout your network.

When it comes to creating your dashboard, think big but start small. The key is visualisation and simplicity. Quality data is complete, correct, consistent, up-to-date and complies to the GDPR regulations. Get that right and you can move your business ahead with a clear conscience.