1 in 5 businesses lose out to ‘dirty data’

One in five business in the UK are losing customers and revenue due to ‘dirty data’, according to new research.

A Censuswide survey of 510 UK and US decision-markers for information database firm Dun and Bradstreet found that, a year on from the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), almost 20 per cent of businesses have lost a customer due to using incomplete or inaccurate information about them, with a further 15 per cent saying they failed to sign a new contract with a customer for the same reason.

However, the topic of data compliance working its way up the corporate agenda, more than half (57 per cent) of businesses concerned about the ethics of data.

Where data is stored is also an issue, the study found, with nearly half (46 per cent) of UK businesses saying their data is too siloed to make any sense of it, while 41 per cent said that no one in their organisation was responsible for the management of data.

This absence of ownership may also be why 52 per cent of business leaders said they haven’t had the budget to implement data management practices within their organisations.

Amongst the key data management challenges identified by respondents were: data privacy (34 per cent), ensuring accurate data (26 per cent), and analysing or processing data (24 per cent).

While technology is widely regarded by business leaders to be an important tool for martialling data, 52 per cent said they do not yet have the right technology to take full advantage of the information in their enterprise.

However, whilst technology is seen as a solution to the challenge of data management, nearly half of businesses (47 per cent) said that artificial intelligence could lead to biases or discrimination in the analysis of data, opening up the potential for algorithms to make decisions discriminating against certain groups.

Inaccurate or incomplete data has also led to nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of firms finding that their financial forecasts have been inaccurate, while 17 per cent offered too much credit to a customer due to a lack of information about them – and lost money as a result.

The data ethics debate sparked by GDPR has meant that compliance has been nearly twice as big of a concern for business leader the UK than in the US (31 per cent versus 16 per cent).

Anthony Scriffignano, chief data scientist at Dun & Bradstreet, said: “Information has always been critical for businesses, but over the past decade, the volume of data, the types of information available and the ability to do new things with that data have expanded enormously.

“It’s not surprising that many business leaders feel they are still catching up and their organisations are yet to make the most of data – and some have even been fined or lost customers due to incomplete or ‘dirty’ data.”

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