The latest episode of Ctalk, our monthly online talk show, focuses on data quality and data management. Host Fabienne de Vries sat down with Edco, a wholesaler of fast-moving consumer goods. Software company Precisely and IT company Ctac also joined them to talk things over. They explain why data quality is so important and how you should approach data management.

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All companies collect and store data, but they don’t always know why or what they can do with it. How can you use data to improve business processes? And when is data of the right quality? These are issues that organisations are struggling with today. Appropriate data management offers a solution.

The right quality makes all the difference

Peter Doens is Channel Development Manager at Precisely, a software company that puts data first. “As our name suggests, we handle data very precisely”, jokes Doens. “Several decades ago, different markets started collecting data. Data can be anything. Sometimes it seems complicated, but it isn’t really. For example, your latest PowerPoint presentation is data, though it probably isn’t as important as your inventory lists, which are also part of your data collection.”

“Data quality simply means having access to the right data,” Doens continues. “It’s all about being as accurate as possible.” Danny Pieters, Data Management Expert at Ctac, nods in agreement. “When your data is in good shape, it provides the basis for your predictive analytics. Access to data creates an overview that’s useful when making decisions about your business processes. Companies that don’t have their data in good shape lack this overview, so they take the wrong decisions. This not only disrupts your processes, it also costs a lot of money.”

Getting started with data management

According to the guests round the table, there is more than one approach to good data management. Wholesaler Edco changed tack a few years ago. Robert Marcussen, E-commerce Engineering Manager at Edco, now heads up the Edco Master Data Management team. “Data management is bespoke work, because every organisation is different. The employees, what’s needed, the objectives – they all play a part. Edco needed a separate data management department because the company creates a lot of content, such as online product information, photos and product manuals. We offer these products on different platforms that each have their own requirements, making the data different for each point of sale. Organising data management in-house was therefore very valuable to us.”

Despite the fact that data management is bespoke, Danny Pieters from Ctac has a tip for organisations. Pieters: “Think about which small adjustments will have the biggest impact right now. Then take another small step after that. That way, you can see results rapidly, and data management doesn’t feel like a huge, impossible task.

Get the right results with the right tools

According to Peter Doens from Precisely, companies are now pooling data from various business departments together. “This means that everyone has access to all the information”, he explains. “Based on this full picture, each department determines its strategy.” There are also various tools that help to combine data into a single, clear picture. “These tools are valuable”, Peter Doens continues. “But it’s still true that making choices based on data is a job for humans.”

Influence on the workplace

According to Danny Pieters, good data management affects the entire organisation, including the shop floor. “Employees don’t always expect this because data management isn’t tangible”, says Pieters. “If organisations want to improve their data quality, it’s unclear exactly what this means for the shop floor. At the same time, the shop floor is where the data is collected to improve business processes. Think, for example, about data relating to inventory and orders. This data is relevant to having a more efficient work process. Good data management therefore leads to better business processes. And that’s valuable for everyone.”