Data Quality doesn’t matter (much)!

August 21, 2010
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While touring in New Zealand to talk about my new book, I had the opportunity to do an interview on TV to explain why Information Management matters.  The segment is available online.  The question that I enjoyed answering the most, simply because I was able to say something unexpected, was “how important is it to have the most up-to-date data”.

While touring in New Zealand to talk about my new book, I had the opportunity to do an interview on TV to explain why Information Management matters.  The segment is available online.  The question that I enjoyed answering the most, simply because I was able to say something unexpected, was “how important is it to have the most up-to-date data”.

My answer was, that it doesn’t matter so much whether it is accurate data or whether it is old.  Implied in the interviewer’s question was the assumption that everything about the data we use needs to be current and perfect.  My view is that while you would choose current over old much of the time, our pursuit of quality and the most up-to-date information leads us to ignore some very rich sources of data which can support new and innovative products.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that having high quality and current data isn’t important.  I am, however, saying it is less important than having a resource that is well understood (i.e., how old it is and how confident you can be in the results).  Most importantly, I am saying you shouldn’t ignore that old data that resulted from market research or other interactions in years gone by.