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Data Hygiene: What It Is and Why It is Important

As organizations gather more data over time, such data tends to be accumulated to the point that it becomes daunting to manage and organize it or to search for specific information in such a haystack of data.

But perhaps the greater risk of accumulated data is that the information contained in the data might be inaccurate, duplicated, or is obsolete. If left unchecked, this leads to critical situations such as possible data storage issues which costs time and money for the organization, or poor performance because it used data that is already obsolete.

To prevent these issues that affect not only data but also the business’ IT infrastructure, the practice of data hygiene is a must.

Data hygiene explained

Data hygiene is the process of keeping data clean. By “clean,” this means that the data is accurate, organized, up-to-date, and error-free.

In ensuring data hygiene is properly practiced and that the data being stored has been cleaned, there are key steps that are need to be taken:

  1. Find and clean up duplicate data

  2. Delete outdated or irrelevant data

  3. Filter unwanted data to prevent mistakes and duplicates

  4. Complete missing data by inputting values or merging if applicable

  5. Standardize formats for fields and naming conventions to keep data uniform

  6. Finally, validate your data and data collection parameters to ensure quality

Benefits of data hygiene

The primary benefit of data hygiene is that it ensures the organization has clean data. But how does clean data benefit the business?

For one, this leads to increased efficiency in the execution of tasks where data plays a critical role. One can notice the marked improvements in areas such as lead generation, data analysis, and customer support. In turn, such efficiencies help further build and grow the business and establish a loyal customer/client base in the process.

Clean data also entails cost savings for the business. Otherwise, it would cost up to an estimated $3.1 trillion a year in losses for businesses that have neglected to ensure data hygiene as reported in an IBM study.

Practicing and ensuring data hygiene can be daunting, especially for businesses that have limited resources. However, the long-term benefits cannot be overstated enough. So it is critical for businesses to take their time in ensuring that this is done in a thorough and precise manner.

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