Section 508

February 26th, 2020

Why it Pays to Transform Your Thinking about Data and Privacy

People need control over their data and transparency about how organizations use it. That’s the mindset companies must adopt in the new age of consumer privacy.

On the surface, it seems like a perfectly sensible, consumer-centered outlook. But the rise of anything-goes data gathering gave companies a lot of bad habits — lax security, opaque data policies, nettlesome behavioral tracking and sketchy third-party relationships.

That age is drawing to a close. Taking its place is an era where legislation like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) is almost certain to proliferate in the years to come. Thanks to these new privacy rules, customers can discover how organizations use their data, forbid tracking of their online behavior and direct companies to delete or update the data in their servers.

Perhaps the toughest thing to get your mind around is that hundreds of pages of privacy legislation are actually excellent news. Though compliance is usually about as much fun as getting lost in a snowstorm, new privacy rules bring welcome clarity for companies using data to better understand their customers.

What’s more, you can take advantage of privacy rules to zero in on collecting the consumer data that drives the best outcomes. That’s a net gain over conventional data collection and analysis — if done correctly.

What We Missed in the Bad Old Days

The old way was to gather as much data from as many sources as possible, then use data science, analytics platforms, machine learning and other complex, expensive technologies to find the few grains of useful insight buried in a Gobi Desert of data.

It made sense in an era of easy access to consumer data. But it wasn’t exactly a sensible data strategy.

An effective data strategy starts with the information most directly relevant to your business. That is, you collect only the data that drives productive outcomes and advances your goals. This strategy is simpler and more cost-effective than hoovering up in everything, much of which is useless.

Getting Closer to Your Customers

In the new opt-in, permission-based world, you’re working with data from people who are interested in your product or service. Thus, the data they willingly share is inherently relevant to your objectives. Opt-in data is easier to segment for marketing purposes. It also gives you more specific, actionable information about the behavior of people using your applications and website pages.

Moreover, building online forms and folding them into a frontend data strategy is much easier to implement than developing massive back-end systems that require much more technical heavy lifting.

All of this can result in a more welcoming sense of intimacy in your customer experience. You can tailor offers to specific people and build more customization options based on the behavior of people who have agreed to engage with your organization.

Transforming Your Perspective on Privacy Isn’t Easy

Adopting a privacy-first data strategy requires a fundamental shift in perspective. Instead of gathering massive volumes of data on the backend, you’re crafting a robust data strategy on the frontend.

Making the transition successfully requires a convergence of skills in diverse disciplines, from SEO and email marketing to machine learning and system architecture. You also need a framework to persuade teams to adopt new methodologies and a roadmap for implementing the optimum technologies.

At DMI, we’ve developed powerful methodologies to help companies succeed in these kinds of transitions. We’ve learned from engagements with companies across every sector of the economy that managing change effectively is the bedrock of effective business transformation.

We believe that the current wave of privacy regulation represents an opportunity to develop data-rich, customer-centered websites, apps and marketing campaigns. The hitch is knowing how to make it work for your enterprise. That’s where our skills and experience pay off.

 — Michael Deittrick, senior vice president digital strategy, chief digital officer

Tags: analytics customer data GDPR privacy

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