What is the business cost of bad data?
In the modern world, almost all businesses rely heavily on data to guarantee their successful business ventures. However, multiple issues, especially involving data, can occur and cause these ventures to fail. Some organisations are able to successfully identify these issues, whilst others believe that it is the cause of bad data. According to an estimate from IBM, the United States lost $3.1 trillion yearly, all due to the use of bad data. The focus on every business should be the analysis of data, or prevent these issues from happening and causing concern. Quality improvement should be of high importance. Everyday, there is nearly 2.5 quintillion bytes of information generated, making the mix of bad data inevitable, but not a cause for worry if there are proper procedures in place.
Bad data compromises from a number of factors: Incomplete, Inaccurate, Non-conforming, Inapproprate and/or Duplicate. Unfortunately, data can conform to any of the above, rendering it useless in the business world, but still manages to have a detrimental effect and influence within an organisation. These data characteristics create a negative impact, which needs to be replaced by clean data, of good quality that will narrow down the wasted time of bad data costing.
The question is, how are companies now coping with the issue of bad data? However magnanimous the results of bad data may seem, there are ways to rectify each situation. The steps below are recommended by HBR, in order to aid businesses with overcoming turmoil.
- Confessing having bad data issues: Every solution begins with an honest acknowledgment. Fixing bad data is no exception.
- Focusing on data exposure to external agencies: Meticulously monitor systems to ensure sync with the latest data for your customers, regulators, and other agencies.
- Formulate and execute advanced data quality programs: Ensuring quality data filters is a viable long-term option to prevent future poor data quality issues.
- Carefully assess the way you treat data: Deep dive into current data management practices gives a good insight for future optimization purposes.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”