"Water, water, everywhere...Nor any drop to drink." So said Coleridge's ancient mariner about dying of thirst on a languishing ship, surrounded by the salt sea. I feel that way sometimes about data. In lean economic times, we want to capitalize on every resource we can find but the data that surrounds us seems unusable. It's been estimated that 80 percent of vital business information resides in unmanaged repositories, making effective utilization nearly impossible.
Before I get e-mail messages from grammar wonks-always a danger when I start with a poetry reference-I say "utilize" instead of "use" deliberately. Before the data can be used, we have to bring it from its unusable state to a usable state. Just as we must desalinate seawater in order to drink it, we must increase data's utility before we consume it. Let's look at three tasks you can do to improve the utility of your data, as well as the three types of related projects that can help you in lean economic times.
Task No. 1: Clean the data
As with water, cleanliness improves things everywhere you use data. If you want to increase revenue by maximizing campaign effectiveness, you may want to segment your data better-but target selection can be tough when you have titles such as "Chief info officer" or "Integratoin mgr" instead of correctly spelled and standardized titles.
If you want to cut costs, you can start by deduplicating the mailing addresses of your catalog recipients. If you want to avoid the "float" of your billing, clean your address data to ensure that clients receive their bills as quickly as possible.