Data is a precious commodity in today’s technologically advanced world. However, more data does not always mean more accurate results. This challenge of maintaining and making sense of data from multiple sources is enough to give IT teams sleepless nights.
The average enterprise has nearly 464 custom applications deployed, and it’s not hard to see why. Sales may use their own system to store customer data, while customer success uses a separate system to manage customer complaints resolve issues. Business units will be juggling data from multiple sources for decision making – data stores like POS (Point-of-Sales) terminals, CRMs capturing data from social media, marketing automation platforms and more. And in each system, data is often entered manually, leading to typos and inconsistent entries.
With billions of data records, data redundancy and duplication is inevitable. Finding and building the right teams to make sense of your disparate databases (more on that later) is an even bigger issue.
While you may be tempted to outsource the task to data cleansing specialists, it means spending a large chunk of your revenue paying companies that do not understand your data from a business perspective and will therefore invariably make mistakes.
The question is – should you outsource, especially when you can easily invest in a dedicated data deduplication software solution that your business users can use themselves without overburdening IT with data cleansing and matching requests?
A data deduplication solution will take just minutes to take care of redundant data by:
- Using a combination of data matching and parsing algorithms to find duplicates and match your data
- Allowing you the ability to profile and standardize your data to ensure consistency and usability of data
Before you understand how data deduplication software can help, you need to know how data duplication occurs and why it’s so hard to detect these issues in real-time.
How does data duplication occur?
Let’s take the example of an e-commerce retailer that maintains an enterprise-level database. The company has hundreds of employees entering data on a regular basis. These employees work with an ever-growing network of suppliers, sales personnel, tech support, and distributors. With so much going on, the company needs a better way to make sense of the data they have so that they can do their job efficiently.
Suppose there are two agents – one in sales and one in tech support, who are dealing with one customer – Patrick Lewis. Due to either human error or the use of multiple data systems, both employees in different departments end up entering two pieces of data.
It’s important to note that names suffer the most from data errors – typos, homographs, abbreviations, etc are the most common problems you’ll find with the [name] field.
Bad Data (One individual, two entries):
|Pat Lewis||House C 23, NYC, email@example.com|
|Patrick Lewis||C-23, Blueberry Street, New York City||(null)|
Data after Deduplication (One Individual, one entry):
|Patrick Lewis||C-23, Blueberry Street, New York City, firstname.lastname@example.org|
As you can see, various type of errors can occur as a result of the human error via manual data entry:
- Misspelled names – Pat, Patrick, Patrik, etc.
- Variation in Addresses – House C 23, C-23, House No. C 23, etc
- Abbreviations and Cities – NYC, New York City
- Missing zip codes – 10001
- Missing values – one entry has an email and the other doesn’t
- And more
You need to transform this fuzzy data (or dirty data) into usable data that can be accessed by all departments without having to hand over the task to IT every time. Not having access to the correct data can prove costly to your business.
As per Gartner, 40% of business initiatives fail due to poor data quality.
How can you solve data quality issues, especially as your business continues to grow and scale? There are two ways to go about this:
- Hire an in-house team of data specialists who can develop a solution for you.
- Consider getting a tried and tested third party data deduplication software that can clean up your database.
Use a Data Deduplication Software or an In-House Solution Team?
Suppose your company wants to run a campaign for marketing or sales. Upon closer inspection, they discover that their data is all over the place, with multiple entries for the same individual. Can the company bear to push out their campaign at this stage, knowing fully well of the risks inherent in relying on redundant customer data?
|Reasons for poor data quality include:|
As mentioned before, there are two options to clean up fuzzy data.
Hire a team of developers/data talent in-house to manually clean your data
Businesses that are hesitant in investing in technology prefer the first option. These firms’ operative thinking is informed by a need to save costs in the short run, and in thinking that data quality can be maintained periodically. In such a scenario, data matching and cleansing becomes a time-intensive process, requiring tons of manual work to fix data.
In the long run, these manual, temporary and periodic quick-fix solutions require developers and data specialists who are, spoiler alert, not cheap as they thought.
Invest in a commercially available data deduplication software
Data deduplication software (also called data matching software), has proven to have a higher match accuracy (85-96%) than an in-house team of data specialists (65-85%). These solutions are tested in a variety of scenarios and feature intelligent algorithms that clean up data rows in a fraction of the time it could take human eyes to peer through them all. What could typically take months can be resolved in a matter of minutes.
Moreover, the most popular data deduplication software today allows for integration with your databases, meaning you can automate the cleansing of your data in real-time using workflow orchestration features.
|To sum it up, data deduplication is a technique that:|
· Removes copies of similar data from various other databases and sources.
· Ensures a streamlined and proper database.
Today’s firms need to realize that improved data quality results in better decision-making across your organization. To be relevant and competitive, you need to invest in the right data deduplication software.