Why GDPR Isn’t Your Biggest Problem

 In Data Governance

In sales and marketing we often discuss the concept of a ‘compelling event’.

The theory goes that people aren’t just buying tools that sound cool, they’re buying technology  when motivated by a significant shift…whether that shift is internal to the company, coming from market forces (such as competitors and government regulations), or even the result of customers themselves changing behavior. Identifying this ‘compelling event’ means that, as sales and marketing professionals, we can better tailor our solutions to solve the problems of the audiences we’re targeting.

It’s safe to say that a brand new regulation, like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), with penalties of €20 mil. or 4% of worldwide revenue (whichever is higher), qualifies as a compelling event. In this case, I’m going to buck the best practice and argue that this compelling event is merely a symptom of a larger pervasive problem wreaking havoc in the market today.


Read more about the nuts & bolts of GDPR on our Preparing for GDPR webpage where you can
browse the big changes, what it means for companies’ data practices and when it goes into effect.


The Compelling Insight (let’s go beyond an event)
What is a larger issue than a brand new government regulation with crippling penalties?

The lack of an actionable data strategy. If you had an actionable data strategy, addressing GDPR would be merely a configuration away from fading to the back of your mind. And it would barely be a blip on the radar of the value produced from that actionable strategy.

That’s the scary part (or at least it should be). Because data is used for everything…from compliance to revenue-generation.

Data touches every part of a business—from protecting consumer privacy for legal, delivering personalized experiences in sales and marketing, and generating product/engineering insights from user behavior, all the way to CX optimizations from all of the data above. But with the way that customer behavior constantly changes and new technologies emerge (as Morgan Stanley puts it, “software is eating the CMO suite”), its created a serious challenge for businesses trying to deliver the most timely, most relevant and most efficient experiences possible. In the age of mobile and the impending emergence of artificial intelligence and IoT, data strategy is an existential issue for businesses.

What if the same solution to customer data protection and legal risk could simultaneously empower your company’s marketing teams, business intelligence analysts, customer experience strategists and others to not only understand, but also act on a unified data set to deliver more effective customer engagement?

Welcome to the age of the Customer Data Hub (CDH).


Read our “Why the Customer Data Hub?” white paper to see the core problems solved by the CDH,
the key tenets of a CDH approach and the functionality included.


Data Collection, Enrichment and Activation as a Competitive Differentiator
Now more than ever data is the differentiator that will cause companies to succeed or fail. Not only collecting and activating data in real-time, but enriching it across channels, devices and teams to generate a more complete picture of your prospects and customers, anonymous or known.

In a recent Gartner study, businesses reported losing $8.8 mil. annually on average due to poor data quality.

What does this all really mean though? It means that the days of solving problems for one channel, device or internal business team are rapidly coming to a close. You can’t just wire up your email data to drive personalized experiences on your website alone. You can’t just feed product usage data into your customer success silo to drive customer health insights. Well, more accurately… you can, and some businesses certainly will. They’ll continue making incremental changes addressing the symptoms instead of the true problem and deliver sub-optimal, fragmented customer experiences while losing in the market at-large.

These efforts are duplicative, wasteful and create silo’ed experiences for customers and employees. This data should be shared across channels, technologies (not just two of them) and teams. Without a universal approach to data, there is no source of truth about customers—only fragmented glimpses siloed to one internal team, shared between two channels and probably stuck on one device.

What you need to do is create an operational data strategy that can dynamically collect data at a hub across all data sources/teams, enrich it across those sources and then activate that enriched data for action in the market.

The Customer Data Hub Solution
GDPR simply represents a particular set of data that needs to be managed in a particular way. If you’re worried about GDPR, it likely means you have a limited ability to enact a data governance strategy, let alone proactively use that data for offensive marketing or customer experience initiatives. What GDPR should represent to marketers is the compelling event necessary to get your data house in ordernot only for consumer data protection and to avoid fines, but also for what it will mean to your ability to execute on timely, relevant and flexible customer experiences that drive revenue.


Check out our actionable 5-step data governance checklist to get started with your strategy.


Taking a universal approach to customer data – across touchpoints, technologies, and teams – allows organizations to address strategic data issues and even avoid them altogether.

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