Catch Bad Data Before It Wrecks Your Business
The value of data enhancement is not limited to insertion in specific operational workflows, because enhancement is often performed to provide additional detail for reporting and analysis purposes. And in these cases, enhancement goes beyond data standardization and correction; instead, the enhancement process can add more information by linking one data set to another. The appended data can augment an analytical process to include extra information in generated report and interactive visualizations.
Consider collecting ZIP code values at a point of sale. A retail company can take sales data that includes this geographic information and then enhance the data with demographic profiles provided by the U.S. Census Bureau to look for correlation between purchasing patterns and documented demographics about the specific locations (including sex, age, race, Hispanic or Latino origin, household relationship, household type, group quarters population, housing occupancy and housing tenure). Geographic data enhancement also adds value for analysis. Given a pair of addresses, an enhancement process can evaluate different types of distances (direct distance and driving distance are two examples) between those two points. This can be useful in a number of analytical applications, such as site location planning which compares properties based on a variety of criteria (possibly including the median driving distance for local customers for a bank branch or average driving time for delivering pizza to frequent customers).
Standardizing names and addresses is the first step, and linking those records to the reference data collections allows direct linkage based on specific criteria, ranging from gross-level linkage (say, at the county level) down to specific enhancement at the individual level (such as the names of the magazine to which a customer subscribes). These qualitative enhancements augment the business intelligence and analytics processes to help companies make more sales, increase revenues and improve profitability.
Greg Brown is vice president of Melissa, provider of global contact data quality and identity verification solutions that span the entire data quality lifecycle and integrate into CRM, e-commerce, master data management and Big Data platforms. Connect with Greg at email@example.com or via LinkedIn.