Archive for December, 2006

Using reference sources in data quality maintenance

Monday, December 11th, 2006

A key tenet of data quality management is the use of reference data to ensure consistency and validity. An obvious example is a pick-list (Mr, Mrs, Ms etc) for the Title field on a contact entry screen, ensuring standardised data capture and prevention of invalid entries. Or even misinterpretation of the field itself, for instance resulting in a job title being inadvertently entered (it happens!).

A more sophisticated example is the use of address look-up and enhancement solutions. Referring to postal address reference data maintained by national postal administrations helps ensure the accuracy of address data. The same is also possible though with organisation data, by referring to an external source of comprehensive business data to verify companies on a database. Matching to such an external source and appending key data such as size, industry or number of installed PCs is not new of course. This is a good way of understanding more about the organisations on your database and undertaking customer profiling. The benefits go wider than this though and can contribute to general data quality enhancement.

Matching two organisation records on your database, that appear to be different to each other, to an external source may highlight that in fact they are the same. The resulting de-duplication at organisation level may in turn reveal contact duplicates that can also be removed, with obvious benefits to mailing costs and brand perception. It may be possible to identify that an organisation on your database is part of a group of companies with whom you are already doing business, with potential gains in relation to privacy permissions and messaging. The ability to append phone numbers is also a real win, avoiding having to look-up phone numbers as part of any telemarketing you may be undertaking.