Data Integrity - Part Three: Intersecting Data Integrity & Company Reputation

Anna Mayer
September 17, 2021

Data Integrity — “is the accuracy, completeness, and quality of data as it’s maintained over time and across formats,” according to Harvard Business Review.

Gone are the days that business decisions were based primarily on gut instinct. Today, data is the new currency for maintaining business competitiveness. In a study by McKinsey & Co., data-driven companies are:

  • 23x more likely to outperform competitors in customer acquisition,
  • 9x more likely to retain customers, and
  • up to 19x more profitable…

That’s right, 19x more profitable! Yet when 2,190 global senior executives were surveyed on Data Integrity, only 35% said they have a high level of trust in how their organization uses data and analytics.

Maintaining accurate data leads to confident business decisions based on sound evidence, but it goes further than that. It plays a critical role in the trust that end-users have in a company’s products and services. With our new Data Integrity Series, WinnowPro is searching for answers to uncover how businesses prioritize data integrity within their organizations and how customers are impacted by organizations who fail to implement today’s standards of data integrity.

This is part three in our Data Integrity Series, in which we sat down with two of our specialists in marketing and client services at WinnowPro to discuss the reputational side of maintaining Data Integrity in business.

Anna Mayer is a Marketing Specialist at WinnowPro, where she leads direction on content strategy. She has a background in marketing analytics and is therefore always thorough when collecting and analyzing consumer data to drive marketing decisions.

Michaela Zuckova is part of the Client Services team at WinnowPro. She is involved with customer success, product design, and helping our clients leverage data. She has worked extensively with startups, non-profits, and established companies in the technology industry.

Interviewer: What are the possible consequences of using bad data?

AM: Oh, there are many possible consequences to using bad data. Data supplements the majority of business decisions, no matter how large or how small. On a micro level, if a company doesn’t have accurate data to rely on, then they’ll likely waste a significant amount of resources -- in the form of time and money -- before they figure out the mistake they’ve made and rectify it. For some companies, years will go by before someone notices any problem. We see evidence of that often in the marketing industry. According to one study by Data Axle, 93% of consumers receive marketing communications that aren’t relevant to them. Of those, 90% find it annoying. I’m sure we’ve all experienced it personally in one form or another. If you follow those poorly-targeted marketing ads back to the source, you will inevitably find that a company is either relying on the wrong data or missing data analytics completely.

Now, if ineffective marketing campaigns were the only consequence of using bad data, maybe the concern around data integrity wouldn’t be so serious. However, that’s only the beginning. Every department in every company uses consumer data and trends to base their decisions and prepare strategy. Years ago, IBM did a study that calculated that bad data resulted in the loss of $3 trillion annually for businesses in the U.S. 

Within marketing, bad data is the result of two common streams… continuous reliance on traditional marketing channels and over-reliance on third-party online data collectors. 

In the first instance, there are certain industries and sectors that still heavily rely on traditional channels, such as billboards, direct mail, print marketing etcetera. While there is definitely still a market for communication in those channels, there’s no accurate way of measuring their success. Online data gives us instant analytics on what consumers click on, where they hover their cursor, how long they watched a video… With a billboard, we’re only guessing at how many drivers saw it and how it influenced them. Again, sometimes these channels supplement other marketing strategies well, but alone they provide little useful data for an organization.

The second stream is of course the over-reliance on third-party data, which I believe Erdal Guner and Cagatay Capar did a good job describing the issues there.

MZ: Our data oriented approach is a crucial component of our expertise and the transparency we provide. Making sure we capably collect accurate, timely, and reliable data is our top priority. Without our access to, and presentation of, clear, trustworthy data, our clients would not have the confidence in us to deliver.

To use an example from our extensive work with auto dealerships, our clients count on our data to be able to convert sales. Without accurate marketing and customer data, our dealerships would not be able to convert sales, would lose revenue opportunities and would not be able to successfully run their businesses.  With bad data they would miss opportunities dependent upon trends, predictions and competitive information. Our clients’ competitors would be able to edge ahead in a competitive marketplace based on having an advantage of higher quality data.

In addition, there are internal implications of using bad data, as Anna said. If our data is of poor quality, our:

  • Strategy team can’t review or make modifications to our current campaigns;
  • Marketing team doesn’t have insight into our clients’ potential and is unable to translate data into marketing outreach and campaigns; and
  • Operations team are blinded by not having full visibility and transparency on our clients’ performance, efforts, and decisions.

Interviewer: How is Data Integrity important to a company’s reputation?

MZ: On a day-to-day level, data integrity is a critical foundational element for building quality service, trust, and transparency. Without those three elements, companies wage an uphill battle trying to establish a positive reputation. With quality, trust, and transparency, the sky's the limit! The company’s reputation blossoms and so do its prospects for success.

Companies that are able to develop a transparent, trustful, quality-focused relationship with their clients will have happier clients -- clients that are more likely to sign up for additional services for longer terms. Simply put, data integrity leads to customer loyalty. The quality performance of companies that offer data integrity leads to higher profit as well.

AM: I agree with what Michaela said. There are very few companies that survive with negative reputations. We all know of a few large, almost monopolistic, businesses that continue to flourish financially even though they’re continuously in the news for their horrendous labor practices or deplorious data gathering tactics. Yet, even those companies are actively working to improve their reputation, because they realize the importance of impressing on consumers, clients, and politicians their credibility. For all other companies, who don’t have that monopolistic hold on their industry, a reputation can make or break your success. It really boils down to building brand loyalty and awareness, two crucial competitive advantages. Once you lose a consumer’s or client’s trust in your Data Integrity, you knock your own reputation. That in turn opens the door for your consumer or client to consider leaving you and taking their business to another company whose services they trust more. If this happens in one individual case, it’s less of a problem. However, you can imagine the effect it would have if all of a sudden hundreds of your clients or customers began questioning your credibility.

Interviewer: Do you see Data Integrity as a growing issue in the technology realm? Why or why not?

AM: Absolutely. I think it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t see it as a growing issue. The shift to online buying has been great for marketers because we now have live data to work with, but it still comes with its own challenges and concerns. Data integrity doesn’t just mean that data is accurate, but it also means that it was gathered with consideration for the user. For example, we use a lot of technology in our homes these days, but does that mean companies should be allowed to gather information on us within those private spaces? Data is a wonderful tool to have, but you have to be weary of companies or individuals who get greedy.

MZ: Most definitely. Going off what Anna said, ensuring data is consistently enriched with proper context at scale powers more informed business decisions. Data that is accurate, consistent, and framed with the right context is increasingly important in technology as driven by customer demands and expectations, from launching artificial intelligence and addressing regulatory requirements to creating personalized communications and personalized customer experience. This same mindset allows for the conversion of in-house experience to exceptional online customer experience.

The realm of technology will also highlight challenges with data, such as data falsification and manipulation, either intentional or unintentional. Poor software, process and documentation of data often leads to unreliable data sources.  Meanwhile, human interactions, data transfers, software viruses or compromised hardware can compromise data integrity. This is where maintaining data integrity can be the most challenging.

Interviewer: Of the data that WinnowPro collects, what is your vision for how it’s useful to users?

MZ: I believe that our data is a foundation for establishing smart strategic decisions for our clients. The comprehensive, reliable nature of our data helps our clients build their marketing and business strategies.

To that end, our clients are able to leverage this data. When they utilize our data for strategic purposes, it makes them more competitive. I’m proud that our clients are able to outperform their competition by utilizing our data and our approaches.

As they develop their competitive prowess leveraging data, our clients start to excel with retaining their customers. This is where the strategic use of data has ripple and long term effects.  

All of these factors together mean that clients are using our data to grow their business. This is the ultimate goal of our platform and services. We are here to help our clients succeed. And that’s what’s happening, in large part because of data integrity.

For more information on WinnowPro’s Data Integrity Series and to learn how WinnowPro is achieving its mission for the highest data integrity standards, sign up to receive email alerts when new announcements are released

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