Does data quality directly impact profitability?
Recently, in a landmark ruling, South African courts ruled against the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) in a billing dispute. The Court found that the onus is on the municipality, not the client, to prove the accuracy of the meter readings on which the disputed bills were based. Although quite a coup for customers, this ruling also means that CoJ needs to address their data issues in order to avoid similar issues going forward – issues which not only impact payment, but also have a dramatic effect on their bottom line.
Every organisation who does business, transacts. Products or services are sold to customers and invoices are raised in order to receive payment for them. This billing process is what drives business, and accurate and complete billing data is at the very core of the success of any organisation. As shown by the above court ruling, billing disputes are bad for business. Not only can they delay, or in the above case, completely cease payments, but they can also cost money in administrative and legal charges.
Disputes may arise for many reasons and in any business, from municipalities to telecommunications companies. Common disputes include disagreements between customers and suppliers over contractual terms or conditions; alleged errors in billing information, as is the case with CoJ, where readings of data were allegedly incorrect; or as delaying tactics, where customers deliberately dispute billing in order to delay or avoid payment, citing missing or incorrect information as a reason. All of these listed reasons for dispute can be mitigated if organisations ensure their data is of sufficient quality.
Quality data supported by sound data lineage can provide suppliers with valuable – and revenue saving – information. In the case of a usage based service such as that offered by CoJ, this information could include evidence that meters were, in fact, installed at the consumer sites; evidence that the correct meter was being read for each consumer; and evidence that the correct meter was tested for each case. Such information, when properly recorded and stored, proves invaluable in the event of any dispute.
Of course, billing is not the only area where poor quality data has a direct impact on profitability. Areas that could be impacted include stock and order management where poor quality data could result in costly errors; sales, where customer acquisition and retention is based on the quality of data to hand; and even maintenance services, where poor quality data could negatively impact the service provided. Our new whitepaper, Five Ways that Quality Data Drives Revenue – takes a deeper look at how quality data can deliver lasting increases in revenue.
The link to poor quality data may not be obvious – in many cases, disputes will be blamed on systems, processes or human error – but having quality data available gives suppliers the upper hand. Where disputes are raised due to errors such as a typo, they can be quashed and corrected quickly on the production of the right data. It makes sense, then, that accurate billing data be available for the complete revenue assurance process, especially given that the supplier is legally required to prove the accuracy of their bills. Organisations can leverage sound data governance and the expertise of data management partners to ensure their data is of the utmost quality in order to avoid unnecessary costs and maximise profitability.
Gary Alleman is the Managing Director for Master Data Management. Master Data Management (MDM) provides specialist solutions for data governance, data quality, data integration and MDM.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.