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The ability to process and analyze data has always been critical for our clients, but with today’s exponential data growth and increasing reliance on advanced analytics, crunching massive amounts of data to put accurate and timely information into the hands of decision-makers and drive mission-critical business processes has never been more vital.

Doing this successfully hinges heavily on the quality of data, which is increasingly difficult to ensure as volumes soar. IDC pegs the digital universe reaching a whopping 4 Zetabytes (approx 4 billion TB) by 2013, notching 50 percent year-over-year growth. This number will surpass 40 Zetabytes by 2020, IDC reports. Extraordinary advances in computers, communications, and storage will propel business data worldwide to double every 1.2 years, according to estimates.

‘Garbage in, garbage out’ may be a cliché, but it is also a truism, and the consequences of bad data can be dire.

Here’s just a small sampling of the high costs of bad data:

  • The majority of companies responding to a Forbes Insight survey report losing more than $5 million annually as a result of bad data, and one-fifth of companies taking the survey estimate losses in excess of $20 million per year. (It is no surprise that, according to the same survey, 95% of organizations agree that strong information management is critically important.)
  • Dirty data costs US businesses $600 billion dollars annually (Data Warehousing Institute).
  • Poor data quality costs the US economy around $3.1 trillion a year (Artemis Ventures).
  • If bad data impacts an operation only 5 percent of the time, it adds 45 percent to the cost of operations (DM Review Magazine).
  • Poor data quality costs businesses 10 – 20 percent of revenue (Quality is Free, Philip Crosby).
  • 46 percent of respondents to an InformationWeek survey cite data quality as a barrier for adopting BI/analytics products.

SAP Information Steward to the rescue

As is often the case, challenge and opportunity go hand in hand.  While exponentially growing data volumes pose significant challenges, the potential value of this data is enormous. From increasing operating margins to reducing costs to achieving efficiency gains to driving revenue, data properly harnessed underpins new waves of competitive advantage, productivity, innovation, and growth.

But, again, data quality is the key to realizing this value.  Even small improvements in data quality yield significant results.  In fact, a study conducted by the University of Texas finds the median Fortune 1000 company could increase its revenue by more than $2 billion a year if it increases data usability by just 10 percent.  This is not chump change.

The causes for data problems — all exacerbated by increasing data volumes — are complex and varied. Data residing in numerous, incompatible data sources, duplicated data, lack of visibility into data sources and the lack of a consistent, repeatable way to measure and score data quality top the list.

Enter SAP BusinessObjects Information Steward, part of SAP solutions for enterprise information management (EIM).

Information Steward offers a range of tightly integrated data management tools within a unified framework to address many of the data quality issues that plague businesses today.

As a central repository for data asset analysis, metadata management, business glossary, validation rules, and data profiling, Information Steward is an efficient, cost-effective single source for all of the tools needed to continually analyze data quality, establish and enforce sound data governance processes, and achieve strategic data-quality goals.

Most importantly, Information Steward’s intuitive, role-based user interface enables business users to take direct control of data quality. Using Information Steward’s intuitive scorecard visualizations, dashboards and drill-down capabilities, business users can monitor all levels of the information management landscape; measure data quality by seeing how many data objects are in compliance, and how many are not; identify and eliminate root causes of bad data; and define KPIs and business rules for data quality and governance.

Data’s strategic importance to business will continue to grow as businesses continue to accumulate massive amounts of data across a broad range of categories — enterprise applications, data warehouses, user data, social media, etc.

Accordingly, Gartner forecasts that the data quality tools market will show a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent over the next five years.

Gartner also positions SAP in the Leaders quadrant of its 2012 “Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools” report, citing as strengths SAP’s significant mind share in the market; the breadth of functionality of SAP’s data quality tools; SAP’s strong presence in the application and BI platform markets; the depth of integration between SAP’s data quality tools and SAP applications; SAP’s support for multiple data domains; and SAP’s road map for its data quality solutions.

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