If you want to improve data quality, first you need to improve culture

Data Quality is essential for every single business that wants, or claims, to be data driven. Without clean data, it can be impossible to have an accurate analysis of the data and therefore decisions made from it may not be the right one for the business.

As Mark Hobart, Director of Infoboss, puts it:

“Your business will not be able to make accurate and informed decisions, deliver on its strategic goals or mitigate against service delivery issues or compliance non-conformance if the data being used throughout the business is of poor-quality.”

It’s a common theme that businesses struggle with their data quality, knowing where to start and how to set a plan in place.

As part of our 2020 State of Data survey we wanted to know what the best way to improve data quality is. Is it more investment? Better understanding within the business? Or just simply how the data is cleaned?

The results told us that a cultural shift is needed in business to fully understand and improve data quality.


The problems and the solutions


Much of the issue with the quality of the data is it’s usually decentralised within the business or has unrestricted access, meaning the chances of having a strong strategy for data quality is minimal and makes any decision making extremely difficult.

There are several ways this can improved, either through increased standardisation, governance, security or all three.


Knowing where to start with a strategy can be a real challenge for businesses, especially when there is so much data and skills and data quality knowledge is lacking in the business.

In order to create a strong data quality strategy, business objectives need to be aligned – the data function needs to understand why the business needs or wants the data. Sometimes the amount of data can be daunting so focusing on agility and quality rather than quantity can be a good step forward.

Fixing data quality can be a daunting task and too often protagonists pay lip service to the job in hand, electing to adopt short term strategies to resolve specific issues rather than take the brave steps to build a data quality management strategy that delivers sustainable improvements, forever…” – Mark Hobart


It’s a theme we hear often, within many businesses there is disconnect between the C-Suite Management team and the data function, much of the time there is little to no buy-in from the business units.

The data team don’t just have the challenge of improving data quality but sharing this knowledge, and the data, with non-data literate workers throughout the business. As the survey results tell us “engaging users of data” is the most effective way to improve data quality, so therefore it is essential the data team are able to communicate and influence the wider business effectively.

“Training and talent retention is a serious need. Then the processing of available data to the benefit of the organisation” – 2020 Survey respondent

It’s clear that the key to great data quality is changing the culture and improving communication and relationships between the different departments within the business.

Quality is more important than quantity and gathering data on its own is not enough for data driven decisions. There must be frameworks, strategies and an understanding of why the data is needed, and from our survey results we’d suggest the first step forward for any business is buy-in from the management and having users engaged.

“Sustainably improving data quality will greatly increase your business competitiveness and chances of success with your current and future business transformation initiatives.” – Mark Hobart

Download your free copy of our Change is on the horizon: The state of data 2020 whitepaper here.

KDR Recruitment is the original data recruiter. View our latest data, tech and analytics jobs or follow us on LinkedIn for more news and views.

You might also like: