Data problems can severely affect the quality of your business intelligence analysis, but they are often hard to detect. Because they don’t stop your analysis process right away, they can slowly become more and more of a detriment until they finally destroy your BI project. Because of how destructive unreliable data can be, one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your business intelligence software runs correctly is to make sure that your data is easily accessible and accurate. If you have duplicate or incomplete information, you will end up with results and eventually initiatives that are baseless. If you use the information to reach out to your customers for marketing campaigns or up-selling opportunities, you run the risk of looking disorganized and incompetent.
You can fix your data problems by following these basic steps:
- Detect and correct potential issues before they do any damage. Before adding any raw data to your business intelligence software applications, use reconnaissance software tools to determine the quality and reliability of your new data. This software is usually more accurate than checking the data manually and can detect and correct mistakes before they get lost in your existing data.
- Eliminate duplicates and standardize all your data as it comes in. This will give you a more comprehensive view of what kind of data you are actually collecting from the get go. By establishing procedures for data processing as it comes in, you can standardize the data as it enters the system.
- Make sure that any new data that applies to and affects old data can be categorized with the older data to create a more complete information history on a specific topic, be it customer buying habits or updating ROI.
- Set up a data “dictionary” so that data from separate sources with different phrases that share the same meaning are identified as belonging to the same category. For example, “manager” and “mgr” are spelled differently, but share the same meaning and should be treated as such.
- Use the tools available to you to automatically extract data from different sources, interpret it, and transform it into a form that can be used by your business intelligence software. This will save you the time and money required to translate your data manually.
Once you know your data is in the right format and contains information that can be used successfully by your software, you can concentrate on the results of your business intelligence analysis and how they affect your company. Take a second look at how reliable your data is now, before the wrong information affects your investment in your BI program.