How Missing data comes To Be Missing
The five basic causes of missing information are; 1) unavailability of information, 2) excessive cost of information, 3) not knowing how to obtain the information, 4) not understanding what information was required, or 5) simply failing to do the work.
Missing information - Information may be unavailable because it simply doesn’t exist. If so, this is just a fact of life we must live with. On the other hand, the data may exist but there may be no way to get at it. Let me give you a couple of examples. First, closely guarded information about a competitor exists but is not available to you. Another example would be a company that has no system for retrieving and using its cost data. The data exists but is not accessible until a system is put in place.
Excessive cost of information - Sometimes information is available - but at great expense of time and or money - for example, when a very expensive survey would be required. Unless the value of the information is greater than the cost of acquiring it, it would be unwise to do so. Such a decision requires an estimation of the acquisition cost and a reasonable prejudgment of the information value.
Not knowing how to obtain the information - Frequently the information is available but we don’t know how to get it. There is an absolutely staggering volume of information available in the world - if you know how to get it. At times we may seek information in the wrong places. Other times we may not even figure out any place to look.
Not understanding what information was required - On occasion, there may be misunderstanding as to what data is required. For example, when we ask for significant recent events on the MARKET SEGMENT ANALYSIS, we sometimes get information about significant recent internal company events. The respondent clearly misunderstood the question and gave the right answer to the wrong question - thereby not providing the information required.
Simply failing to do the work - Finally, on occasion, we may simply fail to do the required work. (Often accompanied by the lame excuse “I didn’t have time.”)
(part 4 – How Faulty Data Arises will appear next week.)