Data Quality: Brands Must Contribute to a More Open & Secure Society

Brands must ensure best practice is adhered to with regards to data quality. Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire, Jason Goodwin (pictured below), managing director, Experian Data Quality UK&I, Experian, explains that brands need to set an end goal for 2017: using their data to contribute to a more open, yet secure, society. 

"Of all the data that organisations hold, 23% is believed to be inaccurate, and 39% have 50 or more databases of contact data, up from 10% in 2014." – Experian Global Data Management Research 2016.

From a data-quality perspective, 2017 looks set to be a challenging year as organisations across the board strive to tackle the challenges of open data and the pressures of new regulations.

Accurate and effective execution – especially in marketing – remains reliant on the quality of the data at your disposal. In fact, it’s more critical than ever before as consumers are more demanding, less forgiving, and more empowered. Yet a staggering 76% of businesses believe inaccurate data is undermining their ability to provide an excellent customer experience. Additionally, the shift of open data from niche to mainstream raises new challenges that are in the process of transforming the marketplace.

Every organisation needs to consider how it manages data and the policies and processes that impact it – depending on what they collect, hold, and use it for.

Increasingly, more businesses will look to use open data as a differentiator, adding new attributes to derive insight and intelligence on top of their existing base. For those on this journey, the next step is releasing data openly to foster innovation, new partnerships and social benefits. However, in order to be useful, let alone effective, the quality of any data utilised, harvested, or shared must be assured. Because of this, open data publishers will be put under increasing pressure over the next 12 months to work with their users to ensure data is of a high quality, maximising the return on investment of preparing, assuring, and releasing it.

Jason Goodwin, MD, Experian Data Quality UK&I, Experian

When considered alongside the requirements of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s clear that brands need to call their processes into question, not only to ensure best practice, but to make the most of what should really be viewed as a huge opportunity for the industry. For example, I recently spoke to one client who has held, and continues to market to, lapsed customers and prospects going back… forever. Well, for as long as their digital records exist. Why? Because it’s easy and cheap when you have an in-house email capability. Never mind the bounce-backs. It’s deemed much harder to review and change their contact and data relevance policies, but now they are ready for change.

Marketers need to review the wider context of data both within and outside the business. They must consider what data they could safely share to improve efficiency, or help customers and partners. Marketers could start looking at new sources of location or enhancement data to help with regulatory or business needs, such as risk, value creation, or revenue-assurance.

Yet, with consumer empowerment on the rise – as well as an increased focus on quality data – it is perhaps logical, even likely, that databases will get smaller. My earlier example a good case in point, where I expect 75% of their marketing database to be removed once it has been standardised, pinned, de-duped and suppressed. While this may seem like a marketer’s worst nightmare, it should be viewed as a positive: less storage, better ROMI (return on marketing investment), less noise, and happier customers.

In general, the requirements for opt-ins, the removal of duplicates, the creation of golden records, and the proactive management of data held, will result in more accurate and consistent customer relationship management capabilities. Marketing needs to embrace this data evolution, not resist it, because good data is better than big data.

Finally, the marketing industry should already be planning for the next billion users to come online.

What can we, within our organisations, do to serve them in areas where the web may not be at premium speeds, where mobile devices are their only access points, where English is not their first language, and where they may not have fixed addresses? Thinking in such undeniably grand, but socially constructive, ways could create unique opportunities in both existing and new markets previously thought unreachable. Even those ‘tier-two’ markets, felt perhaps just too hard to reach, could be re-evaluated with a new data lens.

If an organisation can celebrate two things at the end of 2017 they will be that their data and business is both prepared for GDPR, and that they are using their data to contribute to a more open, yet secure, society.

Society is ready for this, all it takes are organisations ready and capable to take up the data challenge and lead the way. The question for the willing is, how do you intend to proceed?