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FleetBoston's Data Obsession

Financial-services company cures data ills with data-quality software.
Organizing and utilizing customer data is a priority for 77% of 300 respondents to InformationWeek Research's Evolving IT Priorities: 3Q 2003 survey. It's something of an obsession at FleetBoston Financial.

The financial-services company's corporate division was fairly drowning in bad data until it came up with a practical solution last year. When recording new sales, members of various business units, such as foreign exchange, syndicated loans, and commercial real estate groups, tended to be lax about checking whether a customer might already exist under a different name. Left unchecked, the problem dragged down system performance.

"Duplicates are the bane of any sales system," says Jim Eardley, managing director of business development and strategy at FleetBoston.

To fix the problem, FleetBoston last year installed data-quality software from Firstlogic Inc. By comparing fields such as address and telephone number, the software flags duplicate records before they get entered into the system.

That's good enough for Eardley. "I'd rather have a mediocre system with perfect data," he says, "than a perfect system with mediocre data."

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