The Importance of Data Quality
The late American politician Daniel Moynihan once famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." While Moynihan was, of course, bemoaning the level of political discourse, his aphorism can be applied with equal relevance to the question of decision-making in business. Are we relying on facts or on our gut feeling? Is it somewhere in between, a mixture of data and intuition?
There’s no right or wrong answer about the degree to which we should rely on data versus intuition. Steve Jobs vehemently rejected the market research approach to product development, invoking the famous (but perhaps apocryphal) quotation from Henry Ford, "If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse." But it’s clear that some decisions, from the strategic to the daily and mundane, should be at least in part based on evidence.
This is one of the reasons organisations have invested heavily in business analytics, in an effort to ensure people have the right data at hand to support daily operational decisions and even long-term strategic decisions. Whether it’s a government agency approving a pharmaceutical for sale, a retailer deciding on the location for a new store, or a bank giving a customer a credit score, decisions depend not only on data, but also on the quality of that data.
Poor quality data can mean poor quality decisions.
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