Why "Bad Data" Is Bad


The data you’re relying on to make important business decisions could actually be doing a lot more harm to your organization than good. Learn how.

2 Min Read  + 7 Min Video

The impact of bad data within organisations can cost a lot of time, money, reputation and revenue.

Jennifer Belissent, principal analyst at Forrester Research shared a curious case about bad data at Sodexo during the Forrester’s Data Strategy & Insights virtual conference. Belissent made her point while talking about how Sodexo, a French food services business, had a sudden increase of sales in breakfast sausage at one of its food service places. The increase of sales of sausages grew so much that eventually the data showed that people were buying nothing but sausages for breakfast.

The data indicated that the company should buy even more sausages to meet the increasing demand. However, someone found it weird and decided to investigate the situation. Upon close inspection, it turns out that cashiers were clicking on the “breakfast sausage” button instead of the “total” button at the end of the transaction. In fact, new cash registers had been recently installed and the cashiers started clicking on the “breakfast sausage” because it was more conveniently placed and it did not change the total amount paid. The lesson here is clear: without a healthy dose of critical thinking the company would follow blindly the bad data and make an expensive ordering mistake.

In order to prevent bad data from having a negative impact in organisations, we need to create and nurture a data-driven culture within organizations. This data-centric attitude has to be actively encouraged all across the company. After all, to make it work, employees must feel empowered to make sense of the data available to derive true value from it.

The video below created by Accenture Technology explains in a very simple way why “Data Quality Matters”.

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