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The High Cost of Clean Data

Chief information officers see funding limits as one of the biggest barriers to pursuing ambitious IT projects, according to a recent Accenture study.
Allan Richter, CFO Magazine
September 20, 2007

With several studies over the past three years showing that chief information officers regard business intelligence as their top priority, you might expect a stronger CFO-CIO relationship to be close at hand. But a recent Accenture survey found that CIOs regard funding limits as one of the top obstacles to pursuing ambitious information- management projects. The goal of information management is to provide more workers with access to higher-quality data that is more secure and better governed, and can help power the nascent move toward analytics (the linking of various metrics to drive business performance).

Seventy-five percent of the 160 CIOs in North America and Europe who were surveyed said they aim to develop an overall information-management strategy in the next three years, versus 25 percent focused on such a strategy today. But the CIOs ranked a lack of funding, along with poor data quality, as the top barriers to their plans.

The two hurdles are closely related. "Across any industry, the number of people needed to transform, aggregate, and cleanse data is much higher than companies realize," says Greg Todd, senior executive with Accenture's Information Management Services group. Further complicating the equation is that, while the cost of the ERP systems that provide much of the data that business intelligence and analytics efforts need is high, at least it's quantifiable. These newer information- management efforts are, according to Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson, multilayered and far from commoditized. "It's an art, not a science," he says. Worse, perhaps, from a CFO's point of view is his warning that information management "is not a finite project." Todd says attacking it piecemeal drives up the cost.