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New Frontiers in Business Intelligence

Nari Kannan

Fixing the Third Root Cause of Bad Data Quality - Bad Business Processes!

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Sometime ago I wrote in another blog entry - Five Root Causes of Bad Data Quality in Business Intelligence.

The third root cause of Bad Data Quality are Bad Business Processes!

Point of Sale systems, Order Entry Systems and other internal systems of an organization where bad data originates cause a lot of the bad data, but you don't realize what bad business processes do to them until you see the bad data!

Nine times out of ten, you can trace these back to people using these systems in ways they are not intended to be used!

Of course, try explaining that to a grocery store floor manager who has ten customers glaring at the checkout clerk when he/she could not easily figure out how to complete a certain transaction. The floor manager walks over and is equally baffled. Some of them may call a phone number for some assistance, call someone who knows how to override something in the system and key it in again properly.

Guess what happens most of the time? The customers are impatient, the checkout clerk is impatient and the floor manager is needed at five other checkouts with flashing lights needing his/her help! They may just use of the shortcuts they know and get the transaction completed somehow. Boom - they may have created bad data right there!

The most egregious bad data happens with a lot of names and addresses of clients and customers. A spelling mistake here in a name or a mistake in entering the address there, suddenly you have created a completely new entity within the system! Next time you analyze purchases by address or by customer, you are now analyzing two identities within the system for the same single person in real life!

Many business processes involve paper forms and keying in the data. If this is not the area for bad data, I am not sure what is! Typing errors introduce a lot of the bad data in these processes.

Business Analysts and strong and exhaustive Use Case Analysis is the answer to make sure that you spend enough time thinking about exceptions and providing for them in the systems you design.

Self-service Internet base registrations or some way of self-identification can eliminatea  lot of these errors. In modern systems, identification of someone with their email address can be a unique way of making sure identities are unique.

Many systems that take in Postal Addresses check the address entered with a backend database of addresses and even ask you if you are in this county or the adjacent one if some town spans two counties (I live in a town like that - rare but I have been pleasantly surprised by computer systems and forms asking me for this County information after I put my address in!).

Business processes, and more importantly, players in a business processe determine the various Use Cases and enough time spent analyzing these, always goes a long way towards reducing bad data!

When something goes wrong, it's either because there is too much process, too little process or the wrong process. Likewise, when something goes right, it's because the right resources (people or systems) were engaged at the right time. What dictates that is again a process. Too often however, what differentiates something going wrong from something going right is nuance or context if you will. - Mihnea Galeteanu

Nari Kannan's blog explores how new approaches to business intelligence can help organizations improve the performance of business processes--whether these processes are creative or operational, internally-focused or customer-facing, intra-departmental or across functions.

Nari Kannan

Nari Kannan started and serves as the CEO of appsparq, a Mobile Applications development company based in Louisville, KY with offices in Singapore and India. Nari has over two decades of experience in computer systems development, translating product and service strategy into meaningful technology solutions, and both people and product development. Prior to this, he has served as both Chief Technology Officer and Vice President- Engineering in six successful startups, two of which he co-founded. He has proven experience in building companies, engineering teams, and software solutions from scratch in the United States and India. Prior to this, Nari started Ajira Technologies, Inc., in Pleasanton, CA, where he served as Chief Executive Officer for more than six years. While at Ajira, Nari was instrumental in developing service process management solutions that modeled, monitored, and analyzed business processes, initially targeting the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Telecom, and Banking verticals in India, and Finance, Insurance, and Healthcare verticals in the United States. Prior to this, he served as VP-Engineering at Ensenda, an ASP for local delivery services. He also served variously as Chief Technology Officer or VP-Engineering at other Bay-Area venture funded startups such as Kadiri and Ensera. He began his career at Digital Equipment Corporation as a Senior Software Engineer. Nari has a long involvement with Customer Support and other customer facing processes. At Digital Equipment Corporation he was involved with their 1800 person customer support center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was tasked with coming up with innovative tools to help customer support people do their jobs better. He holds a U.S patent for a software invention that automatically redirected email requests for customer support to the right group by digesting the contents of the request and guessing at which software or hardware support group is best equipped to handle it. At Ensera, he led a 45 person team in developing an internet based ASP service for handling auto insurance claims, coordinating information flow between end-customers, Insurance companies, Repair shops and Parts suppliers. Ensera was acquired by Mitchell Corporation in San Diego. Nari holds a B.S. degree in Physics from Loyola College, and an M.B.A degree from the University of Madras in Madras, India. He graduated with a M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1985. Contact Information: Nari Kannan. Email: nari@appsparq.com Mobile: 925 353 0197. Website: www.appsparq.com View more .

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