Data decay: Are you getting regular checkups?

Published: 25 July 2018


A lot has been said on the importance of using clean data when starting out on the path to digitisation. However, more needs to be said about maintaining the integrity of data and avoiding data decay.

One of the pillars on which you digital journey rests is data hygiene, meaning all data brought in from silos around the workplace must be “cleaned” to ensure validity and usability for your specific requirements.

“Failure to ensure you data is usable can cost you in the long run,” says Stuart Pearce, managing director, TD Global, Singapore. “But failure to maintain the integrity of that data can also create major – and expensive – issues. Data decay or degradation is said to affect email marketers to the tune of around 22.5% of their database every year, and that’s just one sector that needs addressing.”

Organisations move premises; hire new staff members; create new products and change telephone numbers. Individuals who have signed up for promotions do the same and all this new data should be checked at least annually, Pearce asserts, to guard against a slow decay that that suddenly catches up with you.

“Most important,” says Pearce, “is ensuring your data keeps up with all changes in legislation wherever that data is served. Putting off updating your databases can prove costly, especially when you run into regulation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which carries stiff penalties for non-compliance.”

With the GDPR, 10 criteria are to be used to determine the amount of the fine imposed on a non-compliant firm. “These range from the number of people affected, the damage suffered and the time period of the infringement, to how cooperative the organisation is in remedying the breach with the supervisory authority.

“There may be less leniency with organisations that are proven to have neglected the updating and hygiene of their data,” says Pearce.

For example, Article 9 (1) of the GDPR specifically prohibits the following:

“Processing of personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation.”

If your organisation has not yet updated its data to accommodate the prohibition, the fiscal punishment could be severe.

“Throughout the digitalisation process, TD Global ensures our clients are cognisant of the importance of monitoring for data decay and that their governance teams oversee this as a matter of priority. Regular checkups can save you both costs and reputation in the long run.” Pearce concludes.