Manufacturing companies face data crisis

UK manufacturing companies are leaving themselves vulnerable to a host of problems associated with poor data quality, according to the results of a new survey released today by Datanomic, the data management software provider. The survey, of 100 IT managers in UK companies of over 1,000 employees, shows that a large proportion believe that they may be violating compliance and other legislation, as well as risking the success of their IT implementations and losing competitive edge through poor business decision making because the data they rely on is not of a high enough standard.

Data quality is clearly a serious consideration for manufacturers. 100 per cent of respondents said that data quality is important to the success of their organisation, with over half (56%) rating it very important, and nearly a quarter (23%) rating it as critical. Despite this huge level of importance however, almost one in ten of these companies (9%) said they have no mechanism in place to monitor the quality of their data, while 27 per cent said they rely on ad hoc audits to ensure standards are maintained. However, 23 per cent do carry out at least one audit a week, compared to an average of 15 per cent.

Incredibly, 45 per cent of those manufacturers surveyed do not use any data quality software to protect their data asset, and of those that do 18 per cent only use it for certain types of data. Only 5% of manufacturing companies surveyed said that they use data quality software across the enterprise. While manufacturers fared better than the financial services, where not a not a single company surveyed (0%) said that it carried out this process, the telecoms sector was revealed as most likely to protect its data with one third (33%) using software across the organisation.

The results show however that manufacturers understand the disadvantages of poor data quality, even if they are not yet doing anything about it. 64 per cent said that improved data quality would give them a greater competitive edge, and the majority of the companies surveyed (82%) said their data has to comply with the Data Protection Act, with Sarbanes-Oxley (45%) and Basel II (9%) regulations providing manufacturers with a keen incentive to keep their data clean. Worryingly, nine per cent of the manufacturing companies surveyed said that they are not aware of any industry regulations that apply to the data they hold.

There are other reasons aside from compliance why the manufacturers surveyed rely so heavily on good quality data. 64 per cent said that poor data quality has had a negative impact on the success of major IT implementations their company has put in place. 82 per cent of government organisations, 69 per cent of financial services organisations, 66 per cent of telecoms companies and 90 per cent of retail, distribution and transport companies all agreed.

In contrast, the survey also showed that when the financial services get it right, the results can be impressive. 46 per cent said that implementing a data quality system has had a positive impact on the success of a major IT implementation, and a huge 64 per cent agreed that improved data quality would give them a greater competitive edge.

Laurie Mascott, CEO at Datanomic said of the findings: This survey backs up what we have been seeing for a long time that manufacturers are aware that their data is not up to scratch and understand the risks this poses in terms of compliance and other business processes yet many have to commit time and resources to addressing the issue. In fact, not a single industry sector we surveyed showed that it is handling its data correctly. Also, in some cases vendors have delivered technical solutions to data quality that struggle to deliver tangible business value to non-technical data owners, thereby undermining confidence in further data quality investments.

But companies who are in denial about their data quality are only exacerbating the problem, when actually the solution to poor data quality is very straightforward. The cost of implementing data quality software is negligible compared to the benefits of successful large-scale IT projects, increased competitive edge and avoiding fines and damaged reputations for compliance failure. Its time for businesses to realise that if theyre relying on data it needs to be right, and without proper monitoring in place this is extremely unlikely to be the case.

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