I have lost count of the number of times I have heard a manger say, "We've got to get a handle on our data quality." It seems as though organizations everywhere are concerned about reducing or eliminating bad data in their systems. But, what does bad data really mean? To a large extent, it means that management doesn't trust their reports and, as a result, also does not trust their applications. They don't know for sure which systems or reports are wrong, but they know something isn't right because data values do not match from system to system and report to report. In many ways, it is a problem of perceived or suspected poor data quality as much as actual poor data quality.

Managers (and others in the organization) do not trust the data because it is inconsistent. Often the organization does not have standard customer names across systems or departments. In other cases, the bad data could be mismatched product descriptions between the marketing, production or other departments.

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