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puzzle piecesResearch agency Vanson Bourne surveyed 500 IT Managers and CIOs in the UK. The results follow:

  • “88% of businesses saw data as a strategic asset to their business…”
  • “A third of large organizations in the UK admit to having lost a customer or new business due to missing data.”
  • “Half of the respondents (52 percent) said their biggest frustration was the complexity around managing multiple data sources.”

We can make a few assumptions from these results:

  • If businesses knew their data was missing or incomplete, they would do something about it.
  • If businesses could somehow tie missing data to real business processes or sales losses, they would get real resources to do something about it.
  • When pieces of data—meaningful to a single business process–are spread across multiple data sources, it’s too hard to tell if data is missing or incomplete.

Three Teacup Chicken from Simply RecipesThis makes perfect sense. I love this relatively simple Three Teacup Chicken recipe from Simply Recipes (photo from Simply Recipes, too). Before I settle on that as my main dish, though, I always check if I have all the ingredients.–Yes, I’ve been burned before, if you must ask. The oatmeal raisin cookies had no oatmeal and not enough raisins. Discuss. Here are the Three Teacup Chicken ingredients:

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Dry sherry
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Scallions
  • Chili pepper
  • Star anise
  • Brown rice

I can usually check two cupboards for all of these ingredients. Imagine if I had to check 5 cupboards, and some ingredients were split across cupboards. I’m much more likely to miss identifying an incomplete ingredient. Depending on the ingredient, I could compromise an entire meal. Data and business processes are much more complex.

Hey, did anyone notice that I didn’t even check for *chicken* in my Three Teacup CHICKEN recipe? When an ingredient is missing entirely, it’s easy for our eyeball check to skim right over. Such is the problem that Vanson Bourne documents.

When applied to data, how do we fix this problem? You need a solution with these capabilities:

  • Access to multiple data sources at once.
  • Ability to associate a field to a business process.
  • Ability to check for nulls or blanks in critical data field.
  • Ability to check for nulls or blanks when conditions arise across multiple data fields from multiple sources.
  • Ability to check for incomplete (or shorter-than-expected) data in a critical data fields.
  • Ability to check for incomplete data when conditions arise across multiple data fields from multiple data sources.
  • Ability to notice incomplete data before a transaction tries to complete.
  • Ability to require incomplete data at point-of-entry.

Here’s the good news: all of these features are available in SAP BusinessObjects Information Steward. And, they’re not even that hard. Here are a few videos from SDN to give you a better idea on Information Steward and its capabilities:

 So what’s your excuse now? ๐Ÿ™‚

You don’t have to lose customers or new business because of missing data or incomplete data. Solve this core information governance policy problem with Information Steward. At least start by identifying WHERE you have critical, missing data.

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