Data cleansing, as the term suggests, is exactly that—a database cleaning process that involves the removal and/or correction of “dirty data” from said database.
When data is stored using any type of process, certain errors are inevitable. Once these errors enter the system, irregularities are bound to happen and “dirty data” (i.e., “data that is incorrect, out-of-date, redundant, incomplete, or formatted incorrectly”) is born—potentially threatening to pollute a clean database.
In essence, the goal of data cleansing is to minimize these errors and prevent or eradicate dirty data. In an attempt to keep all data as useful and as up-to-date as possible, the process of data cleansing usually involves a read-through of a set of records to verify the accuracy of each.
Application and Relevance
Also referred to as data scrubbing, this process is very important in maintaining a smooth workflow for data-dependent businesses. It is a valuable process that allow companies to save time and money, and at the same time increase the efficiency of their transactions.
According to wiseGEEK:
If some of the clients within a database do not have accurate phone numbers, for example, employees cannot easily contact them. If a clients’ email addresses are not formatted correctly, as another example, an automated email system would be unable to send out the latest coupons and special deals.
As such, data cleansing is crucial to organizations that deal with a large amount of data: banks, government offices, SMEs, and many other types of data-heavy businesses. Data management professionals also encourage these firms to actively invest in cleansing tools that prevent any sort of decline in data efficiency caused by a mismanaged database or partner with a company that offers outsourced research services.
Manual Data Cleansing
If done manually, the process involves a person deliberately combing through a pile of data to correct typos and spelling errors, properly label and file all mislabeled data, and carefully supplying missing entries in incomplete files. This manual process would also entail the eradication of out-of-date records so that they do not disrupt the current workflow or occupy space that can otherwise be allotted to new and relevant data.
Electronic Data Cleansing
In more complicated scenarios that involve complex operations, data cleansing is usually performed by computer applications that are programmed to follow a set of rules and procedures that are initially determined by the user. These rules are often based on a specific purpose or set of purposes, e.g. to delete records that have not been accessed or updated within a certain time frame, to perform spell checks, or to get rid of duplicate copies. More sophisticated programs are even capable of filling in missing data or change them based on a certain preset.
Data cleansing software tools are often used by various organizations to fix and improve badly formatted data from marketing lists and CRMs. Through this, they are able to quickly achieve results that could otherwise take days or weeks should the process be carried out manually. Needless to say, companies can save not only time but money by investing in data cleaning tools.
Managing big data has never been easier—thanks to the ever-evolving digital technology we have this day and age. Businesses need to know how to properly handle, analyze, encode and store the raw data they’ve gathered to convert it into valuable information vital to their operation. Leave all your big data concerns to us and we will address them through our data management services, allowing you to focus on other important business matters. Learn more!