Data Decay

The impact of data decay on Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Finance

Data decay – the facts and figures

Data (particularly contacts information) held by most organisations on their clients, prospects, competitors and suppliers decays at an average rate of 30% per year, but can reach 70% in fast-changing sectors, such as technology, retail, marketing and the media. Ouch!

Definition of decay: The process of declining in quality, power, vigour or soundness.

Why does data decay?

People’s lives, and the organisations they are connected with, are continuously evolving and therefore the data we hold on them is soon out of date. They change jobs or titles, move up, down, sideways or onwards. Companies fold, merge, expand, shrink, split and relocate. Acquisitions and mergers happen, spin-offs and new divisions appear and company names change.

A few key numbers:

  • 66% of job titles or job functions change each year, with over 35,000 job titles today compared to less than 1,000 fifty years ago
  • 30% of employed adults change jobs each year
  • 37% of B2B email addresses change each year – three times faster than the rate of change of consumer email addresses

Keeping on top of all these changes is a massive challenge. Organisations have made huge investments over the past 20 years in technology to hold and process data, but the management of its quality is too often a secondary priority. And, unlike decay in buildings or health for instance, data decay is invisible until you start to use the information.

Data quality shouldn’t be an afterthought

It’s hard to estimate the cost and impact of data decay when spread out across an entire organisation. However the consequences will include:

  • Missed sales opportunities and lost revenue
  • Wasted resources
  • Lower productivity
  • Damage to credibility
  • Risk of failure for sales, marketing and customer service initiatives
  • Fines due to compliance issues

Research suggests that 50- 75% of the success of a B2B sales or marketing campaign depends on the accuracy of the data available. Each campaign will include significant costs for labour, materials and marketing, so it’s imperative that the data on which their success depends is of the highest quality, not an afterthought.

And no matter how good your data is, you also need a good team to record it, improve it and maintain it. Get it right and the growth trajectory of your business is likely to continue or accelerate. Get it wrong and your tentative step forward might lead to the proverbial three steps back.

Data decay – the solutions

At Alert Business Insight we maintain a data powerhouse of over 100 million data bits covering people and the organisations they work for. Since we were founded in 2005, we have built and developed sophisticated systems and processes to optimise the quality of the data, capturing or validating over 50,000 contacts each and every month.

In 2015 we decided to bite-the -bullet with an industry-first innovation - publishing the dates when this highly perishable data was last checked. Though the only way to ensure that data is completely up-to-date is to research it and update it each time you use it, validation dates at least tell you how old the data is and allow you to decide what freshness cut-off point to apply to the data you intend to use.

Data decay – how can you avoid its impact?

  • Only buy data for your immediate needs – and from a supplier who is transparent about its age and quality - see Alert Business Insight USPs.
  • Consider subscribing to a source that is constantly refreshing its data - see the service Alert Business Insight offers
  • Commission a regular data cleanse/append programme for your data – see the service Alert Business Insight offers.