The importance of data hygiene post lockdown

It goes without saying that Covid-19 has had an irrevocable impact on every facet of society – mainly negative, but in some cases, positive ones too. For instance, research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that people are now taking more exercise on a weekly basis than they did prior to the pandemic and another study shows that greater awareness about the importance of mental health has led to more people accessing help. Also, it has been reported that there hasn’t yet been a solitary case of flu confirmed by a GP in England this year! 

Business has obviously been impacted too. On one hand you have organisations that have literally been crippled, unable to open for huge swathes of the year; whilst on the other you have companies that have successfully pivoted and are reaping the rewards or organisations that naturally suit a locked down, socially distant society – Amazon clearly being one and Perspex manufacturers, another. 

One impact that hasn’t yet been reported, however, is the effect that Covid-19 has had on customer data. Our latest study reveals that the pandemic has accelerated the rate of data decay by an average of 0.5 per cent per month resulting in annualised rate of 37.5 per cent. This is due to the impact of Covid on the UK’s rate of mortality and the number of people now moving house 

In July 2020 the Chancellor introduced the Stamp Duty Holiday to reignite the UK economy following Lockdown 1.0. This has led to the most buoyant property market since 2008 with a 10 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of homemovers. Tragically, the pandemic has also led to a significant rise in the UK death rate which is currently running 15 per cent higher than average. 

With more people passing away and more people moving house, this means that customer data held by organisations is becoming obsolete more quickly than usual. This is important for a number of reasons, but one of the most important is the recent lockdown alleviation roadmap outlined by the Prime Minister at the end of February. Clearly, as a result of an albeit slow road back to normality, organisations are going to ramp up activity in an attempt to make up for lost time and missed profits.  

Customer data will be at the heart of many organisation’s economic kickstart as it is the lifeblood of the business. Information about previous customers and potential customers provides valuable insight, which in turn leads to engagement and ultimately incremental revenue. However, the old adage is true: rubbish in, rubbish out. It is critical therefore that the data is as up to date as possible. 

To this end, in an unprecedented collaboration, a consortium of data hygiene market leaders including The Software Bureau, Royal Mail, REaD Group and Mortascreen, have joined forces to create ‘Clean Contacts’ an innovative new data hygiene solution – one specifically for users of Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

For the huge proportion of organisations that store their data within CRM systems, the data hygiene process was found to be time consuming, inefficient, and risky as the data had to be exported out of the platform before it could be cleaned. Consequently, the consortium has developed the first in-platform CRM cleansing solution. Clean Contacts’ solves all previous issues by being hosted in Azure and enabling automated batch data cleansing of data. It draws from a pool of over 250 million verified, regularly updated records and is secure because the data never leaves the Microsoft ecosystem.  

We, and more importantly Microsoft, are excited by this new solution and believe that it will be instrumental in continuing the drive towards better and more effective data 

Written by Martin Rides, Managing Director of The Software Bureau