Your Number One Priority: Your Data

Your Number One Priority: Your Data

Behind every successful company, whether it’s a multinational corporation or the smallest start-up, is clean and qualified data. In the following article, we share some of the best ways you can grow and protect your most valuable asset… Your data.

If you want to increase the success of business and maximise upon the sales and/or marketing activities you undertake, you need to ensure the data you have is of good quality.

Here we share how you can grow, improve and protect your data…

Invest time and money in growing your data

Data is your business’ most valuable asset, it’s therefore no surprise that we recommend you invest in it. In order for your business to grow, you need to invest time and money in sales and marketing activities. This essentially enables you to grow your data, by measuring what activities work and which don’t, along with the ability to record customer and prospect data.

Recording all business data should be a consistent and continual process, as it will enable you to remain agile and on-trend. It will enable you to react to the most accurate, up to date information available and stay ahead of the competition.

Ways you can grow your data include:


Buying in data from ...


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Are You Brave Enough to Change Your Data Habits?

Are You Brave Enough to Change Your Data Habits?

Do you often go with gut feeling rather than data and insights? Is your data stored in separate databases, in different formats with different values? We all have bad habits and some are a little hard to kick. However, if there is one you must break, it is surely to make your bad data habits a thing of the past…

Breaking bad data habits isn’t easy. Often there is internal resistance to making data-driven changes, especially with ‘the way things have always been done’ attitude many businesses still embrace. However, ignoring the elephant in the room can be costly. According to Experian’s Data Quality Report, 83% of companies believe their revenue is affected by inaccurate and incomplete customer or prospect data. This is often due to time and money being wasted on unnecessary resources and marketing and communication activities, which ultimately result in a huge loss of productivity.

The cost of bad data habits 

Data is your business’ most valuable asset – it enables you to make the right decisions and impacts everything from email deliverability to customer service and ultimately revenue generation.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t realise the scale of the data quality issues and fail to give it the focus it deserves. They continue to follow the status quo, ...


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Why does Data Decay so Fast and What to do About It?

Why does Data Decay so Fast and What to do About It?

People change jobs, get promoted and move home. Companies go out of business, expand and relocate. Every one of these changes contributes to data decay. It’s been said that business databases degrade by around 30% per year, but why?

A report by IDG states that companies with effective data grow 35% faster year-on-year. However, for this to happen your data needs to have a high level of accuracy, consistency and completeness. Yet for many businesses, data quality is seen as an abstract concept – let’s examine why…

What is data decay?

Data decay refers to the gradual loss of data quality within a system, including key company information, personal details and most importantly, accurate contact information. As a result, the data becomes outdated and often invalid.

Why does data decay so quickly?

The world is constantly changing and sadly data is not immune to that change. From the moment you capture information, your data is at the mercy of processes and systems, as well as a number of human factors:

Disparate systems

Collecting data across multiple systems can often lead to inaccuracies, including typos, incomplete information or duplicate records.

If you integrate your systems without a cleansing exercise you are only bringing across your “dirty data”. As a result, ...


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How to Ensure Your CRM Data is Fit for Purpose

How to Ensure Your CRM Data is Fit for Purpose

In a recent blog post we discussed the importance of data quality. In this post we provide you with seven ways you can improve the quality of your data and ensure it is fit for purpose. 

Constantly improving upon the quality of your data is essential to remain ahead of your competition. Failure to keep your data up to date will result in a 30% erosion in the value of your most valuable asset, your data, which is why it’s imperative to manage and maintain it effectively. What’s more, as explained by Experian, 99% of marketers feel driven to turn data into insights, yet 75% of organisations believe inaccurate data is undermining their ability to provide an excellent customer experience.

It’s impossible to provide outstanding customer experience with inaccurate or incomplete customer data. However, improving the quality of your CRM data doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming. Here’s how you can effectively improve the quality of your CRM data…


Set goals - Be sure to identify what it is you want to achieve, be it to increase leads, conversions, develop a product or service and to maintain regular communication with suppliers, partners, prospects and customers. Once you’ve outlined this, you can begin ...


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Six Tips to become a Data Driven Business

Six Tips to become a Data Driven Business

Data is everywhere. All businesses have access to it. Yet, turning data into actionable insights and becoming a data-driven business can be difficult to achieve.

What does data-driven mean?

A data-driven business utilises data to inform every business decision they make. By analysing relevant data and evaluating it they are able to form a conclusion and predict trends. Data-driven businesses ensure their company culture evolves to encourage innovation and agility. It is imperative for all employees within a data-driven business to collect, analyse and learn from data on a regular basis in order to consistently drive results and improve their skill set.

Why is it important?

By analysing data and creating actionable insights you are able to implement effective business strategies. It can help you increase your competitive advantage, guide product and/or service innovation, increase margins, minimise waste, improve customer service and help you to retain employees.

It is much more reliable to make business decisions based on evidence rather than testing an idea based on an assumption. Data can highlight and predict trends that benefit your business, along with potential issues, thus allowing you to react quickly to ensure minimal damage.

But how does a business become data driven?

Identify your business goals

Those with usable data ...


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Are You Still in the Dark About the Quality of Your Data?

Are You Still in the Dark About the Quality of Your Data?

More and more businesses are waking up to the threat of poor data quality. We’re gradually seeing the risk being taken more seriously as the shockwaves of poor management are felt.

Yet for many businesses, data quality is seen as an abstract concept; difficult to understand, and impossible to value.

When the business formulates its budgets for the year, data quality is often skipped over, because nobody really knows what’s wrong. Sure: they can see emails bouncing, and their customers are drifting away to competitors, but the root cause hasn’t been fully determined.

These businesses aren’t deliberately neglecting data. They just don’t realise how important it is. In fact, it’s the most critical asset that your business currently holds. As your competitors start to take action on data, your business is at risk of losing momentum.

Why Data Matters

As a society, we are now fully connected. We are reliant on the systems that bind us together. Collectively, humans are generating more data in a day than they have in many thousands of years.

It’s widely accepted that data decays at a rate of 2 per cent, per month, regardless of how it is stored. So, assuming you are not taking any action to prevent this, ...


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Is Data Quality Essential for Modern Business?

Is Data Quality Essential for Modern Business?

If you wanted to program a computer in the early 1980s, you didn’t have the option of coding using a keyboard. You had to create a series of cards, each punched with a pattern of holes. The holes had to be entirely accurate, in both pattern and placement. A typical card contained hundreds of potential positions. Just one error in your card deck would cause the entire card to be invalid.

In the early days of office computing, mistakes were simply not an option. There was zero tolerance. Correcting errors, or repunching jammed cards that the machine didn’t verify, could take several days, per card.

Nowadays, we’re so used to getting instant results that we’ve become far more error tolerant, and we don’t have this perfectionist approach. We can add a record to a database in well under a minute, and we have ways to get around pesky validation errors when a record won’t save.

If there’s already a record of a person in the database, we can always add the word ‘NEW’ to their name, rather than backtracking and looking for the duplicate.

What harm can it do, really?

The Age of Automation

As we move towards an age of complete automation, fudging verification and ...


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The Data Quality Tipping Point

The Data Quality Tipping Point

Whatever your business sector, data is your most valuable asset. Along with the machinery and stock you hold, data and insights hold the key to profit and growth. But it has the unique ability to unite every department, and every function. It can reveal problems in processes, drive productivity among your staff and ensure everyone is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.

Like any asset, you need to invest in maintenance and management. Data that is not prioritised and nurtured will eventually cause more problems than it solves. But how much do you need to spend to achieve healthy ROI? And is there a chance your business could be spending too much?

How Much Do You Value Data?

Now, more than ever, data is the driving force that will propel your business forward. Businesses are increasingly automating processes and integrating different systems to increase efficiency and support staff more effectively.

Marketing is a great example of a function that is learning to use data. Campaigns rely on timely data to deliver personalised and timely messages, which is why analytics have become the cornerstone of every marketing campaign. As marketers hit their stride with data management, they are becoming more agile in their response to customer trends. ...


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How Data Bonds Sales and Marketing

How Data Bonds Sales and Marketing

So far in 2016, we’ve heard a lot about Big Data, the Internet of Things, and the hottest new marketing technique on the block: ‘hyper-personalised’ marketing. Marketers are increasingly interested in focusing their efforts on individuals, not database segments, because that all-important personal attention is shown to increase engagement, inspire customer loyalty and deliver a more targeted message.

To hyper-personalize down to an individual level, we ironically need massive amounts of data. We need to follow the buyer’s journey, and the technology we use must be able to track them across different devices. This is a highly sophisticated form of marketing that relies on the accurate, real-time processing of data, which is why quality is so important in making those split-second decisions.

2016 is an important year for marketing. It’s the year where guesswork and approximation are being consigned to the recycle bin forever. For the first time, the sales and marketing department are being driven closer to functioning as one unit, sharing clean, meaningful and timely data to understand what their buyers want and need.

Sales, Meet Marketing

We often see sales and marketing as two very separate departments. Traditionally, they have been separated by task, but also by time.

The marketing department has ...


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Your Data Gets Better By Change – Not By Chance

Your Data Gets Better By Change – Not By Chance

Up to 96 per cent of customer contact data is partially inaccurate, according to the Sales and Marketing Institute and D&B. This is a shocking statistic. If you run a business, this figure alone should have you leaping from your seat in panic.

Can your data really be in that bad a state?

The short answer is yes. Over time, data decays at 2 per cent, per month. So your database is never static; it is constantly degrading. Your customers are constantly changing job roles, phone numbers and email addresses. Your business is occasionally adding duplicates, spelling things wrong, and introducing bad data to the database. This situation is costing you money and time, and it’s a needless waste of resources.

It sounds obvious enough when written in black and white, but it’s alarming how many businesses are sitting back and doing nothing about it.

It’s Time To Change

Data is so critical to business operations that companies are increasingly employing people to watch over it.

A Chief Data Officer is a relatively new role, but it’s been created because there’s a need for someone to give data a voice. This is particularly important at boardroom level, where many stakeholders don’t have full understanding the impact of ...


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Will 2016 be the Year you Clean up your Dirty Data?

Will 2016 be the Year you Clean up your Dirty Data?

For ever it seems, we’ve been warning about the dangers of low quality data. Our warnings have been reinforced and echoed by some of the world’s biggest think tanks. However, despite this, some organisations still haven’t acted to improve the quality of their data.  And we’re wondering why?

Over the last 12 months, we’ve blogged about business automation, and about cutting the waste that’s destroying your ROI. We’ve reminded you that your data is vulnerable to decay, and we correctly predicted that Google Now would become a bigger presence in our lives.

Despite our best efforts though:


78% of companies have trouble getting emails delivered
83% of companies are struggling with silos of data
81% of retailers cannot leverage loyalty programs due to inaccurate data
63% of companies still don’t have a coherent approach to data quality


These Experian data quality statistics prove that businesses are failing to take action. Their data quality challenges are growing, despite the fact that data quality software is getting better all the time.

Will 2016 be the year that the message finally gets through, or will we be singing from the same carol book this time next year?

What Might You Achieve in 2016?

The benefits of better data management are vast, and they ...


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Is Wearable Tech Creating a Data Time Bomb?

Is Wearable Tech Creating a Data Time Bomb?

The company that made your smartphone is no longer a hardware manufacturer. It has become adept at harvesting and managing data from it users, too. Every device has a series of sensors, as well as a user login and an account where data is stored.

For manufacturers of wearable technology, there’s value in knowing how we spend our time: where we go, what we do, and how we like to exercise. Companies like Nike prove how this works.

The First Nike Device

Nike first attempted to harvest data from its customers in the late 1980s. It launched the Nike Monitor, a wearable device that cost $225 and used “ultrasound burglar alarm technology” to record data on the runner’s pace and distance. The sonar pedometer was a flop, but it paved the way for Nike+, a service that would follow 20 years later.

Today, Nike+ collects data from a range of devices, and has more than 28 million users worldwide. It is a software platform, accessed via a series of apps. Users voluntarily connect and upload their statistics to the cloud.

Now, consider the fact that the Nike FuelBand, a wearable tracker, is widely considered to be a flop. In fact, Nike has shelved its hardware to focus on ...


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Why Bad Data is Wasting Your Marketing Efforts

Why Bad Data is Wasting Your Marketing Efforts

The amount of money spent on marketing is growing, and the way we spend is changing. The statistics that prove this are plentiful, and becoming more convincing as the years go by.

Here are two very compelling examples:


By 2016, we expect the amount of money spent on digital marketing to consume 35% of total marketing budgets, according to the CMO survey
By 2020, the amount of money spent on online marketing will overtake TV advertising for the first time, according to ZenithOptimedia


Businesses are investing more, and changing their game plan. Sitting on your hands is no longer an option. The data in your database is becoming worthless by the minute if you have no data quality strategy in place.

In order to compete in tomorrow’s business landscape, you’ll need to use your marketing budget more efficiently than ever before. It will need to be optimised, honed and adjusted at every stage of the process.

However, a killer marketing plan can only get you so far if it’s founded on poor quality data.

Data Flaws Are Costing Your Business Money

Experian research found that flawed data is costing UK businesses £197 million. This is a huge amount of money to spend on messages that never reach an ...


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The Importance of Data Cleansing and Data Maintenance

The Importance of Data Cleansing and Data Maintenance

There are always two aspects to data quality improvement. Data cleansing is the one-off process of tackling the errors within the database, ensuring retrospective anomalies are automatically located and removed. Another term, data maintenance, describes ongoing correction and verification – the process of continual improvement and regular checks.

Often, businesses ask us: which process is the most important? In the long term, which one should we focus on? Unfortunately there is no simple answer, but there is an easy way to understand the differences between them.

An Apple A Day…

When we think about data, we can compare it to caring for our health. In particular, data maintenance is a lot like brushing your teeth. We brush our teeth at least twice a day to stop decay from taking hold. If we didn’t, the sugar that we consume would gnaw away at the enamel and cause rot to set in.

The longer we leave it between brushings, the more vulnerable our teeth become. Similarly, our database must be continually cared for and maintained.

Why?

Data in a database rots and decays in exactly the same way as teeth do. Frequent data maintenance is required to keep the data in good health, ensuring that the rot cannot ...


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The Importance of Data Cleansing and Data Maintenance

The Importance of Data Cleansing and Data Maintenance

There are always two aspects to data quality improvement. Data cleansing is the one-off process of tackling the errors within the database, ensuring retrospective anomalies are automatically located and removed. Another term, data maintenance, describes ongoing correction and verification – the process of continual improvement and regular checks.

Often, businesses ask us: which process is the most important? In the long term, which one should we focus on? Unfortunately there is no simple answer, but there is an easy way to understand the differences between them.

An Apple A Day…

When we think about data, we can compare it to caring for our health. In particular, data maintenance is a lot like brushing your teeth. We brush our teeth at least twice a day to stop decay from taking hold. If we didn’t, the sugar that we consume would gnaw away at the enamel and cause rot to set in.

The longer we leave it between brushings, the more vulnerable our teeth become. Similarly, our database must be continually cared for and maintained.

Why?

Data in a database rots and decays in exactly the same way as teeth do. Frequent data maintenance is required to keep the data in good health, ensuring that the rot cannot ...


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Can Your Business Profit From Data Quality?

Can Your Business Profit From Data Quality?

We often refer to business data as an asset. Something as prized as data is important for every function in an organisation, so it’s easy to see why it’s so valuable, and vital. On our blog, we’ve discussed ways that clean data can make an organisation more efficient, and therefore more profitable. And we know that clean data cuts waste.

But data is not just an asset internally. Some businesses actually deal in data. They trade it, sell it and market it to other businesses. This kind of activity requires pristine data quality and a commitment to continuous management.

Profiting from data is not simple, though, and businesses are learning that there are boundaries. Before advancing plans to turn data into riches, there are some basics that must be considered first.

Selling and Accumulating Data

Organisations that sell data have had some bad press recently. Perhaps the biggest scandal can be accredited to the NHS, which has sold private patient data unlawfully to insurance companies and researchers. The NHS still sells patient data, but it now has to be clear about its motives, selling data only when patients are sure to benefit from the activity.

There are less controversial reasons for buying and selling data. ...


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Data is Immortal, but Not Immune to Decay

Data is Immortal, but Not Immune to Decay

Data exists in a dangerous state of near-non existence. Few businesses would risk not having backups in place. With cloud computing becoming commonplace in enterprise, we’ve come to accept that our data will be replicated and stored in duplicate.

Even data that is intentionally deleted can often be recovered. When Yahoo! purchased Geocities, nobody dreamed that it would go ahead and delete the entire archive – more than 600 gigabytes of internet history. Despite this, enthusiasts were able to quickly archive the collective work of 35 avid Geocities webmasters – an important milestone in our ability to breathe new life into data that someone else does not want.

The Cost of Deletion

Deleting data is not just a catastrophe for the user, or the business, or the system itself. Deletion of data also has a cost attached. We’ve all deleted files, essays, reports or emails by accident, and we’ve been forced to spend hours recreating what we lost.  Other consequences also make data loss costly: loss of custom, loss of reputation, or damage to a brand.

Often, it is easier to harvest massive amounts of data, and create massive backups, than to be selective and economical. This means we have huge data silos just ...


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Were the UK Election Polls Marred by Poor Quality Data?

Were the UK Election Polls Marred by Poor Quality Data?

The UK’s general election took place last week, on Thursday 7 May, 2015. It was an election that had been hyped for being ‘too close to call’. According to the polls, the government was likely to be a coalition of one or more, with no party achieving a majority. It could have gone either way.

Imagine the shock when the BBC announced the exit poll results: a landslide victory for a single party – the Conservatives.

Election polling companies are reliant on various types of data to come up with accurate predictions. Like any business, they must apply quality control to their data. They must cleanse it, eradicate errors and duplicates, and ensure their contact records are up to date. They need to ensure they don’t call the same person twice, and they must encourage people to give accurate data in response.

How could so many companies get it so badly wrong? And was the data at fault, or was there another gremlin in the machine?

Precedents in Polls

This is not the first time that polling data has let down the public, politicians and press.

During the US election in 2012, opinion polls predicted a tough campaign for President Obama. He wound up with a comfortable ...


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Do Your Customers Hide Their Data?

Do Your Customers Hide Their Data?

Personal data has an image problem. People are increasingly wary of handing over their details to websites – particularly when they have no intention to engage long term. Many marketers set out to obtain email addresses, yet do very little to ensure the email addresses they get are valid. This is the beginning of a vicious circle for the business they’re working for.

Why? Trust has broken down. If customers don’t trust you, they will hide their data from view.

Official advice from tech-savvy gurus is to hide your real personal data from the prying eyes of advertisers, by entering false dates and other booby traps. In 2012, this advice was even given by the UK government as a way to protect security and stay safe online.

This is a dirty data nightmare for small businesses, and it will only serve to compound the considerable problems we already face with bad data.

Where We Are Now

According to the Telegraph newspaper, half of British consumers think their data is at risk. They cite data loss, theft and surveillance – all key issues that have hit the news. Paranoia? Not necessarily. Consumers are not merely influenced by media reporting. They have first hand experience of data abuse:


59 per cent said ...


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How a Chief Data Officer Can make Your Data Great

How a Chief Data Officer Can make Your Data Great

Fresh data is usually pristine. It’s data in it’s clearest, most accurate form – straight from the customer or client. If you’ve put measures in place to cut back on data input errors, such as form validation, you can be reasonably sure that the newest records in your CRM are the “latest and greatest”.

If your CRM has been active for some time, you’ll have a number of older records that have accrued. These records are the ones your sales and marketing teams will rely on when it’s time to approach existing customers and sell to them again. Chances are, the quality of these records will be fairly good, but it will have fallen since they were first collected. As data quality slips, data goes from “great”, to “good”, to decidedly “bad”.

Waste and Cost

Data management is a huge cost to businesses, but it’s the bad data that is the real drain. According to Gartner, the average business wastes as much as $13.5 million sorting out data quality problems every year.

Poor management is rife. Because data is stored electronically, many businesses leave its management to the IT department. Yet there is no role within IT that is adept at managing data, and ...


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Value your Customer Data as a Business Asset

Value your Customer Data as a Business Asset

Private data is now a very public issue. For the first time in history, people recognise that businesses store their information and they want to know how – and why. They want to know why websites need their email address so badly, and they understand that private photos can be hacked.

Privacy and security are legitimate concerns for everyone who hands over information about themselves. But some businesses don’t share that opinion. Or, if the business understands the value of data, it has yet to do anything about protecting it.

Your business may have all kinds of excuses for this. Your CEO may think that data management is too expensive, or that workflows are too ingrained to be changed. You might think your business is too small to be hacked, or too big to be affected by a breach.

But no matter how many excuses you have, your customers are getting smarter. They know the value of data, and they want to trust you to understand it too.

Data Risks

Data silos contain all kinds of data; some that could identify a person, and some that cannot. The diversity of these data sets is staggering. Names, addresses and telephone numbers are fairly standard, but as ...


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Do You Have a Love-Hate Relationship With Your Data?

Do You Have a Love-Hate Relationship With Your Data?

Can’t live with it? Can’t live without it?

Has your relationship with data seen better days?

When the business is ticking over nicely, and data is fresh, everyone’s content and happy. They can get on with their work, free from the burden of decrepit databases and phone numbers that never connect.

But then the honeymoon period ends, and the relationship needs work. It’s getting harder to email people. You’re always getting names wrong. And half of your mail comes back as returned to sender.

Like Elvis’ love letter, your mail need not be sent back with an ‘address unknown’. Just as Valentine’s Day gave us all good excuse to nurture relationships and ensure their longevity, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the way we relate to data, and whether we spend enough time on making sure it’s working for us.

Invest in the Best

Last weekend, the world spent around $13 billion on Valentine’s Day. We shopped for 180 million cards, bought 196 million roses and spent $2.2 billion on jewellery.

Over a year, businesses spend a fraction of that amount on data quality initiatives – a ‘mere’ $994 million in 2012, according to The Information Difference.

So we clearly spend far more nurturing our partners ...


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Using Customer Data? Start With Clean Data

Using Customer Data? Start With Clean Data


Office, the high street shoe retailer, has had something of a lucky escape when it comes to its data quality. Last week, the Information Commissioner’s Office decided not to levy a fine on the company for a massive data leak, although luck had its part to play in the outcome.


In May 2014, hackers gained access to Office’s servers and stole customer information relating to more than a million past customers. Sensitive data, such as postal addresses, was exposed, and the hackers were also able to steal passwords from the database. Fortunately, none of this data appears to have been used for malicious purposes.

For many businesses, the consequences of a hack are severe. Fines, bad publicity and compensation payments can have serious consequences for profitability. This is why master data management is a key concept in information security, and achieving a state of security and consistency is critical.

Lucky Escapes

The reason the Office hack was so serious was because the database was so large, and so old. It contained out of data, ‘dirty’ contact information – records that should have been deleted when a new database was brought online. Instead of quickly merging the old database with the new one, Office held ...


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