Legacy Effect: The Biggest Risks of Unreliable Data

Posted by Katie Mowery on June 27, 2017

When you get a group of a data-minded people together – we talk about, well… data. We can’t help but live and breathe it, because it’s everywhere. As consumers of data, we have all come to expect organizations to use it to enhance our experiences with them or to improve their own efficiency and processes. Unfortunately, due to our heightened sense of awareness, it’s painfully obvious when that data is wrong, out-of-date or just plain bad.

How many times do you receive 3 of the same flyer in the mail from a company? Maybe one has your full name, one has your preferred nickname and one is the wrong name completely, but all the addresses match. Sitting in a database somewhere are duplicate and out-of-date records. Integrate, a CRM and Marketing Automation software company, reviewed over 775k contacts from B2C tech companies and found that 25% of their data records were inaccurate and of those organizations surveyed, 60% said they worried about the reliability of their data. This scenario isn’t just specific to consumer data. Though the data being created may be different when we’re talking about asset-intensive industries like oil & gas, utilities and others, you’ll find similar issues with maintaining accurate and consistent master data across systems that may have been in place for many years.

No one wants to admit they have less than perfect data - especially not when an organization has been successful. It’s the old saying: “We’ve been up and running for over 40 years, why mess with it now?” And that’s sort of true – typically you wouldn’t want to change a good thing, unless it means that good thing becomes better. In the case of asset master data, old or inconsistent records could be costing an organization money, reliability and even safety. Ultimately all lessening their bottom line. Retiring data records that are no longer applicable is a necessary function of maintaining high quality asset data.

One of the most common challenges we see with organizations in asset-intensive industries is the maintenance and process of updating and retiring old records. Often this is old, obsolete data that looks like it should be active, but it’s not. The risk of keeping this data is that it creates false demands on materials, spare parts, etc. and an unreliable inventory. Replacement parts could be sitting in a facility somewhere, but they’re among shelves full of obsolete materials which offer no value to their current equipment and assets. It’s like having an oil filter on a shelf in your garage for a car you owned 15 years ago.

Another challenge asset-heavy organizations run into is a lack of connection between multiple systems of record to have one clear-view into their data. Records may live in a Plant Maintenance System, Geographic Information System (GIS), Engineering Design System and Enterprise Content Management System (ECM) creating a disconnected or fragmented view of their master data reality. It’s like having a keyring filled with different shapes and sizes of keys, but having no idea what they go to. If the information for that key’s purpose is on a piece of paper in your neighbor’s house and you can’t get to it, the key is useless to you, regardless of how important it might actually be – and many organization’s do not have the time to test every ‘key’ in their facility to see what it’s for. There is a ‘people’ cost associated with bad asset data that often gets overlooked.

Imagine what could be accomplished if your systems were synchronized – if your asset master data was no longer an obstacle in your path to smooth business processes and maintenance best practices, but rather provided you with a clear picture of your entire operation. This connection allows for data stewards and key stakeholders alike to drive real business insights from accurate data records, across the entire organization.

There is a shift in thinking happening across utilities, oil & gas and other asset-heavy sectors and we’re seeing it with many of the companies we work with. Data is the most valuable currency in an organization’s digital journey and there is the potential for untapped opportunities living within it to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and enable smarter decision-making.

Is your organization ready to embark on the road to digitalization?

Topics: Asset Data, EAM, Data Quality, Digital Transformation