Recently the data landscape has been evolving at an even quicker pace. As such, companies are faced with an increasing number of challenges to effectively maximise the data they are allowed to collect and use. This is best represented by the introduction of the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) introduced in May of this year, which has put pressure on all businesses.
However, adapting to a shifting landscape, especially one that’s likely to continue evolving at a relatively rapid rate, provides a great opportunity for businesses to seriously reconsider how they handle, process, and use their data. It allows them to ensure they have robust processes in place to cope with future changes, as well as giving them a chance to gauge how efficiently they use the data they collect.
How do we achieve the data nirvana of full compliance and genuinely useful analytics? Below we look at some of the points to consider when improving your data.
Make the starting point as clear as possible
One thing to consider is the quality of the data you collect. Whether you’re generating leads, performing e-mail marketing, or collecting information for subscriptions, how you organise and store your data is crucial to maintaining transparency and ease of use.
Create the required roles
Data protection isn’t something your tech people can do on their lunch break. To ensure compliance it will need a dedicated individual to ensure everything runs smoothly, remains compliant, and doesn’t turn into a nasty fine. Maintaining the integrity of your data is a job for a Data Protection Officer (DPO).
Having a dedicated individual provides a central point of contact for everything data related. They can continue refining your processes to ensure compliance with any updates or new regulation that comes along, and deal with any customer or official data related enquiries.
This role will develop into a key part of your business, providing management with transparent reporting, dealing with customer enquiries, and ensuring your business is up to the challenge of handling whatever the regulatory world throws at it.
Standardise your approach
Data standardisation helps to avoid duplication and compartmentalisation of incorrect records and data. As humans, we easily recognise common abbreviations and the occasional spelling mistake, but your systems won’t. Even if you use one of the data normalisation tools on the market, you’ll need to have data quality processes in place to establish the singular approach required.
Proper training and understanding
Everyone in your organisation needs to understand the importance of how data is handled. The fines are increasingly hefty, and it’s better to invest some time and effort now than face huge fines in the future. This will require an effective internal communications strategy to remind employees of their responsibilities. The DPO will also need sufficient power to act when required, and their level of seniority should not be open to debate amongst your workforce.
A power shift is happening
The data you collect is not your property but belongs to the people it relates to. The average customer or subscriber now has more power than ever. There are stipulated time limits, which you must adhere to. Most industry experts believe this will lead to an increase in the number of customer enquiries, and it’s crucial businesses are able to answer them in an acceptable manner and timeframe.
The world is changing
The political landscape is also going to impact the virtual one. Major changes, such as Brexit, will instantly create a plethora of unanswered questions. Europe’s GDPR is one of the newest and most progressive set of regulations on data protection, but we expect other countries to start implementing their own versions over time.
All of these changes need to be adapted to while maintaining your company’s integrity and ensuring maximum profitability.
One of the best ways to avoid falling into a trap with the relevant authorities is to get them on board. A good channel of communication with those responsible for compliance will help create a good rapport with those who, ultimately, may be auditing your data handling.
Whenever you consider introducing a new process or accountability measure, send it across to them first for feedback. This demonstrates a willingness to get it right, ensures you remain compliant, and generally creates a trustworthy image for your company.
As the power shifts to your customer base, it’s important to be on the front foot. Tackle the issue head on, letting your customers know you take their privacy and rights seriously and have their best interests at heart.
The pace of change for the most efficient and correct use of data is going to slow down any time soon. Now, in the thick of it, is the best time to implement ways to start improving your data quality and management.