Sticky Data Quality Flaws

Fighting against data quality flaws is often most successfully done at data entry. When incorrect information has been entered into the system it most often seems nearly impossible to eliminate the falsehood.

A hilarious example is told in an article from telegraph.co.uk. A local council sent a letter to a woman’s pet pig (named Blossom Grant) offering the animal the chance to register for a vote in last week’s UK election. This is only the culmination of a lot of letters –including tons of direct marketing – addressed to the pigsty. The pigsty was according to the article wrongly registered as a residence some years ago after a renovation. Since then the owner (named Pauline Grant) of the pig has tried to get the error corrected over and over again – but with no success.

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8 thoughts on “Sticky Data Quality Flaws

  1. Dylan Jones 13th May 2010 / 13:05

    Great find Henrik.

    There was a case of a 7 year old being set a voting slip, when asked what policies he supported he responded – “More playing”.

    Makes you think what other dirty data lies beneath the surface in these government departments!

  2. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 13th May 2010 / 14:40

    Thanks for commenting Dylan.

    As I understand the story it has become special effect full do to some British habits related to party master data quality like:
    • Many buildings has a name – here the pigsty is registered as a flat named “The Pig”
    • There is no common citizen ID which could make electoral roll so much easier and flawless

  3. Garnie Bolling 13th May 2010 / 14:59

    Henrik, funny… I will vote for the pig 🙂

    Quality of the data when entered is the hardest thing to balance. How do you balance the need to “guide” people to insert the right info, for example, US USA United States.. and so on. yes you can build reference tables to clean it up, but what about the other areas, like email and such.

    How about matching, is there a way to provide information at data entry… but again, that does not cover creating new records…

    I am working with a client now on figuring out what is that balance, how do we get the right data and encourage others to leverage what could be a match.

    Love the picture 🙂

  4. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 13th May 2010 / 15:12

    Garnie, you are right. I often advocate for using things as reference data from public sector during data entry in order to get data quality right from the beginning. But nothing is perfect – in this case the public sector data is wrong, which also made private marketers using public sector data for sending direct marketing to “The Pig”.

  5. Crysta Anderson 13th May 2010 / 16:46

    How right you are. When I first moved into my current house and established phone service, the phone company misspelled my name – Chrysta. (This was despite having four different accounts with the same company over the years – every time I moved, they could certainly SEE the old account but had to create a new one for the new address.) As soon as I got the first bill, I called and corrected the spelling. Four years later, I still get direct mail pieces for the mysterious “Chrysta.”

    And yes, the pig picture is grand.

  6. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 14th May 2010 / 06:47

    Thanks Crysta without H. I have also often noticed that telco’s work pretty much like government agencies. Banks too. Insurance companies also. Big firms in general I think. Even many SMB’s.

  7. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 12th July 2012 / 12:33

    Good find Sergey. Cats probably know a lot about human life. It’s said that 20% of profiles on FaceBook are cats.

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