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In business today, it is impossible to get executive sponsorship or funding for any initiative without a clear and compelling business justification. How is spending this money going to help us increase revenue? How can this program improve the business? Can we afford to fund this initiative at the current time?

To make an investment in your data -- and to ensure that it becomes a strategic corporate asset -- you must first build a solid business case.

Remember that better data management ultimately improves your business. When asked to provide substantive benefits for improving your company's data, I name these three major benefits that I guarantee are top-of-mind with the C-Suite: risk mitigation, cost control and revenue optimization.

Risk mitigation is the most likely reason a company focuses on data quality, according to an Information Age survey of 279 companies. Thirty-two percent of companies said legislation and compliance pressures were a key driver of data governance (Information Age Research Report, "Data Governance: Protecting and Exploiting a Key Business Asset," 2008).

A few years ago, I worked with a company that had just completed a difficult and time-consuming acquisition. On the surface, the acquisition looked great. The two companies had some complementary products, but there were also a fair amount of competitive products. The idea was to streamline the product offerings and reduce costs by combining redundant functions.

Since the company that was acquired generated 60 percent as much revenue as the acquiring company, the logical thinking behind the merger was that it would create a company with substantially more income. In reality, though, the results weren't so satisfactory.

The reason for this underperformance was a lack of knowledge about the new company. One of the things the new parent company never discovered during the due diligence process was that almost half of the acquired company's customers were already the parent company's customers before the acquisition. The amount of revenue that the merged company generated was substantially less than anticipated. This was a huge risk that could have been mitigated with better data management.


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