It's a given that the preponderance of free Internet salary data of questionable origin hasn't made life easier for the typical HR or compensation professional, striving (uphill, in many cases) to enforce quality standards for their pay information. But, honestly, many of the traditional publishers of pay surveys aren't helping matters much.
Take the case of one client of mine, trying to work with her IT Director to select survey matches from a number of well-regarded IT compensation surveys. The IT Director pushes for the free online data, because although it reveals little to nothing about the source of and methodology for its information, it comes with very detailed and up-to-date job descriptions. And because the parallel job description in the professionally published (and relatively expensive) compensation survey (for a Programmmer/Analyst) reads like this:
Develops detailed specifications including card layouts, program descriptions, decision tables, etc.
Card layouts? Are you kidding me? Think maybe your job descriptions could use a little updating?
Or... let's talk about survey job titles, and let's talk about the title "secretary". How many of your organizations still use that title to describe administrative support roles? Yes, I know that many of the duties and responsibilities are still the same, but do you want to have the conversation with the Special Assistant to the EVP - or his boss - and explain that titles don't matter and he's really an executive secretary for job benchmarking purposes? Me neither.
If traditional survey providers intend to hold onto their edge and their customer base, a more proactive stance toward keeping their titles and descriptions (the core of their offering) current and relevant might be in order. Complacency like this creates consequences.