Cleaning Up the Dirty Data Epidemic


There’s a data epidemic sweeping the exhibition industry. People are buried beneath piles upon piles of data and they’re clamoring for an answer about what to do with it. It’s a widespread problem, and it’s very, very costly. Here are some sobering data facts:

  • Bad data or poor data quality costs U.S. businesses $600 billion annually.
  • Poor data or “lack of understanding the data” are cited as the #1 reasons for overrunning project costs.
  • Poor data can cost businesses 20%-35% of their operating revenue.

The importance of good quality data is not something exhibition organizers should take lightly. Just as Jochen Witt Consulting (JWC) recently addressed during the global industry review at the 80th UFI congress in Seoul, in 2014 data driven management will become a key success factor in our industry.

What is all of this junk?

Exhibition data is hazardous wasteExhibition organizers deal with a massive amount of data. Unfortunately, the bad information is often hard to tell apart from the good data. Bad data comes from a variety of different sources – random business cards, imported marketing lists, error-ridden manual data entry, faulty integration between software systems, outdated online information, ever-evolving social media sites – the list goes on.

All of this data swirls together in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, pooling together into a massive set of irrelevant, incorrect, outdated, inconsistent, duplicated data filth. What exhibition organizer has time to sift through the data dirt on a day-to-day basis?

Time to clean up your dirty data

It certainly sounds like an intimidating task to tidy up your data piles, but the hardest part is just getting started. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Rally together a data team, including system users from all departments.
  • Define your objectives, identify your priorities, and decide where quality data is a must.
  • Set your “single source of data truth” – your master system for data, such as an exhibition management software platform.
  • Document your team’s new data quality standards.
  • Outline a data cleanup plan, assign responsibilities, and set a realistic timeline.
  • Audit your data, sifting through information and trashing what’s not necessary.
  • Enforce best practices and regularly monitor your data quality.

In my experience at Ungerboeck Software, I know that people have a tough time deciding what data to keep and what to ditch, particularly when importing old data into a new system. Users have a tendency to want to keep absolutely everything, but as mentioned before, this can be costly. And, in many cases, when migrating data to a new system, we identify that only about 30% of the data is actually relevant and useful!

Cleaning up your bad exhibition data can be a very lucrative move. In fact, performing data quality best practices can boost a company’s revenue by 66%. Imagine the difference that could make in your exhibition management business!

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