Why Today’s Companies Need to Invest in Data Deduplication Software Data is a precious commodity in today’s technologically advanced world. However, more data does not always mean more accurate results. This challenge of maintaining and making sense of data from multiple sources is enough to give IT teams sleepless nights. Understanding Data Duplication If you are responsible for transferring large amounts of information, you might have heard about the term “data duplication”. If not, here’s a clear definition of what it means. Data duplication is a common problem in databases where due to multiple instances, data is duplicated – meaning there is more than one version of the information on a specific entity. For example, Entity A’s info may be repeated at least five times within a source each time they sign up to a service using a different email. This kind of data duplication results in skewed reports and affects business decision making. Where an organization may believe it has 10 unique users, it may actually be just 4 unique users. Data duplication is costly as it affects business processes, causes flawed statistical data, and forces employees to spend their time resolving mundane data problems instead of focusing on strategic tasks. Data duplication is considered to be the root cause of poor data quality as it can significantly increase operational costs, create inefficiencies and reduce performances. As per Gartner, 40% of business initiatives fail due to poor data quality . Duplication can be a severe bottleneck in your digital transformation efforts. Imagine this, you’re all ready to move to a new CRM when you realize your data is inaccurate, invalid and mostly redundant! While you would be tempted to migrate to the CRM anyways, you know that your staff will have to spend time fixing these problems on the new system instead of making use of the CRM for what it was intended. So what causes poor data quality? Some of the common reasons are: Reasons for poor data quality include: Multiple users entering mixed entries Manual entry by employees Data entry by customers Data migration and conversion projects Change in applications and sources System errors Why Duplication is inevitable? Below are some instances. A typical email system might contain 100 instances of the same copy that demands extra storage. The same user can enter multiple entries in different places through a form by which we can experience performance issues. A more complex example could be of an organization that is linked to a billing invoice that comprised of multiple call records. This could lead to bad and unreliable connections. A transactional source system may present multiple instances of a record that are duplicates (or triplicates) can increase the risk that data can be misunderstood within a dataset and count of it will be incorrect. Duplicate records of patients can be generated by the hospital’s technical staff that can reflect cost, such as time spent on locating the original record and problems with billing. Implementing a Data Deduplication Process Data Deduplication is a process by which duplicate copies of data are eliminated. Usually, a deduplication software is used to analyze sources and find duplicates through a matching function. Once it is deduped it can be made ready for its intended use. Data Duplication and Deduplication Examples Let’s take the example of an e-commerce retailer that maintains an enterprise-level database. The company has hundreds of employees entering information on a regular basis. These employees work with an ever-growing network of suppliers, sales personnel, tech support, and distributors. With so much going on, the company needs a better way to make sense of the info they have so that they can do their job efficiently. Suppose there are two agents – one in sales and one in tech support, who are dealing with one customer – Patrick Lewis. Due to either human error or the use of multiple systems, both employees in different departments end up entering two pieces of data. It’s important to note that names suffer the most from errors – typos, homographs, abbreviations, etc., are the most common problems you’ll find with the [name] field. Bad Data (One individual, two entries): Full Name Address Email Pat Lewis House C 23, NYC, 10001 any@email(dot)com Patrick Lewis C-23, Blueberry Street, New York City (null) Data after Deduplication (One Individual, one entry): Full Name Address Email Patrick Lewis C-23, Blueberry Street, New York City, 10001 any@email(dot)com As you can see, various type of errors can occur as a result of the human error via manual entry: Misspelled names – Pat, Patrick, Patrik, etc. Variation in Addresses – House C 23, C-23, House No. C 23, etc. Abbreviations and Cities – NYC, New York City Missing zip codes – 10001 Missing values – one entry has an email and the other doesn’t And more You need to transform this dirty data (that is inaccurate and duplicated) into usable data that can be accessed by all departments without having to hand over the task to IT every time. Not having access to the correct data can prove costly to your business. Solutions to Data Duplication Problems How can you solve data quality issues, especially as your business continues to grow and scale? There are two ways to go about this: 1. Hire an in-house team of data specialists who can develop a solution for you. Consider getting a tried and tested third party data deduplication software that can clean up your database. As mentioned before, there are two options to clean up dirty data. Hire a team of developers/data talent in-house to manually clean Businesses that are hesitant in investing in technology prefer the first option. These firms’ operative thinking is informed by a need to save costs in the short run, and in thinking that data quality can be maintained periodically. In such a scenario, data matching and cleansing becomes a time-intensive process, requiring tons of manual work to fix data. In addition, it has become increasingly difficult and time-taking to find someone who is a good fit for your business, this means a certain part of the process might be put on hold till a professional is hired. In the long run, these manual, temporary and periodic quick-fix solutions require developers and specialists who are, spoiler alert, not cheap as they thought. Invest in a commercially available data deduplication software Data deduplication software (also called data matching software), has proven to have a higher match accuracy (85-96%) than an in-house team of data specialists (65-85%). These solutions are tested in a variety of scenarios and feature intelligent algorithms that clean up rows in a fraction of the time it could take human eyes to peer through them all. What could typically take months can be resolved in a matter of minutes. Moreover, the most popular data deduplication software, today allows for integration with your databases, meaning you can automate the cleansing in real-time using workflow orchestration features. To sum it up, data deduplication is a technique that: · Removes copies of similar data from various other databases and sources. · Ensures a streamlined and proper database. Concluding Thoughts Today’s firms need to realize that improved quality results in better decision-making across your organization. To be relevant and competitive, you need to invest in the right deduplication software.