The wealth of customer data within any business today can help ease the pressure on budgets, but only on the proviso that it is accurate and up to date. Inaccurate data can negatively affect your business, but when captured correctly it can drive efficiency, profitability and growth – and can even be seen to liberate lost budgets.

And budget is lost; around £1 in every £6, or 15-18 per cent, of departmental budget is wasted by UK companies on lost contacts, missed sales opportunities and duplicated mailings due to inaccurate data. For any organisation this represents a significant waste of valuable marketing resources and potential budgets.

This is highlighted in a piece of research by Dynamic Markets conducted across the UK, US and France. The research also showed that UK businesses are not taking full advantage of their data. While there is a high level of understanding of the importance of data accuracy, actually achieving it is still a challenge for most businesses.

Indeed, more than nine in 10 companies believe that their customer and prospect data may be inaccurate. So despite the growing understanding of the value of data it seems the problem of inaccuracy and unreliability is actually increasing rather than improving.

Human error is the worst offender and yet human input is still a common method of checking data accuracy. Whilst overall companies are increasingly looking to technology, with seven in 10 companies using either point of capture software or back-end contact data cleaning solutions, still only 15 per cent have completely automated systems. This does however represent a change in attitude and is a sign that technology is taking a more significant role in data quality assurance.

It is clear that companies are actively working to reduce the budget wastage that inaccurate data gives rise to, as nearly two thirds of companies have set targets to improve data accuracy. Fifteen per cent of these are aiming for 100 per cent accuracy and a further 35 per cent are aiming for between 75 and 99 per cent.

That’s good news investing in data certainly gives bang for your buck; three quarters of UK businesses have invested in upgrading their data management system in the past two years. They’ve reaped the rewards – nine out of 10 of businesses that did invest have seen an associated increase in profits of £792,980.

For a UK business this turns out to be a return on investment of over 275%, which clearly has a significant impact on the bottom line. What’s more, it frees up budget and gives businesses the opportunity to obtain a more rounded picture of their customers, allowing for the creation of tailored communications that stand a better chance of converting into sale.

There is no doubt that data accuracy is essential to ensure maximum success. As data is proliferating by the day, it is also sure to steadily increase in importance. As such, now is a good time to make that investment, as that way you will be able to concentrate on your customers and ensure that budget is spent where it does the most for the business.