Getting the right data entry at the root is important and it is agreed by most (if not all) data quality professionals that this is a superior approach opposite to doing cleansing operations downstream.
The problem hence is that most data erodes as time is passing. What was right at the time of capture will at some point in time not be right anymore.
Therefore data entry ideally must not only be a snapshot of correct information but should also include raw data elements that make the data easily maintainable.
An obvious example: If I tell you that I am 49 years old that may be just that piece of information you needed for completing a business process. But if you asked me about my birth date you will have the age information also upon a bit of calculation plus you based on that raw data will know when I turn 50 (all too soon) and your organization will know my age if we should do business again later.
Birth dates are stable personal data. Gender is pretty much too. But most other data changes over time. Names changes in many cultures in case of marriage and maybe divorce and people may change names when discovering bad numerology. People move or a street name may be changed.
There is a great deal of privacy concerns around identifying individual persons and the norms are different between countries. In Scandinavia we are used to be identified by our unique citizen ID but also here within debatable limitations. But you are offered solutions for maintaining raw data that will make valid and timely B2C information in what precision asked for when needed.
Otherwise it is broadly accepted everywhere to identify a business entity. Public sector registrations are a basic source of identifying ID’s having various uniqueness and completeness around the world. Private providers have developed proprietary ID systems like the Duns-Number from D&B. All in all such solutions are good sources for an ongoing maintenance of your B2B master data assets.
Addresses belonging to business or consumer/citizen entities – or just being addresses – are contained as external reference data covering more and more spots on the Earth. Ongoing development in open government data helps with availability and completeness and these data are often deployed in the cloud. Right now it is much about visual presenting on maps, but no doubt about that more services will follow.
Figure 1: one year old prime information
PS: If you forgot to maintain your data: Before dumping Data Cleansing might be a sustainable alternative.