Anyone who’s heard of organising guru Marie Kondo will know her stance on the sacred power of tidying up. As Kondo leads her clients in decluttering their homes, they inevitably come to feel a sense of calm and order in themselves, as well as their newly neat and tidy homes. I’m not suggesting that tidying up your data will lead to the same feeling of inner-peace, but adding some structure to your data management is certainly going to help you make the most of its potential. Because it’s one thing to collect information with an ordered focus, it is quite another to hoard without a plan.
This is what too many companies have been doing with customer data, scrambling to collect as much as possible with a vague intention of getting to know their customers better, but without the systems and processes needed to actually do so. The penny dropped for some last year when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. Companies were forced to get to grips with the amount of customer data they held and many realised in the process how ineffectively they had been managing it.
Adobe research reveals that 60% of businesses feel they have been collecting too much data, from too many sources, while 56% admit they can’t process that data quickly enough. Meanwhile, 51% say they can’t collate, structure, and integrate it in a meaningful way. This isn’t helping brands get to know their customers better, and it’s not helping them comply with GDPR either. According to our research, nearly half (49%) of brands admit GDPR is holding them back from collecting the data that would fuel more targeted and personalised campaigns.
Earning the right to gather customer data should be a top priority for businesses. But brands should also ensure they are transparent and ethical in the way they collect data, as failure in either area will quickly erode customer trust. Digital integrity is coming to play an increasingly important role in customer experience, leading consumers to spend more, and more often, with the brands whose values align with their own. People want to buy from brands they trust, and responsible handling of data is essential to building that confidence.
Personalisation, compliance, and trust are all inextricably linked. And so they should be. Each relies on brands having full control over their data and the way it is used, be it to deliver more personalised experiences, to offer more transparency to customers. The investment we are seeing in AI in particular, shows just how eager companies are to improve their digital integrity, and the extent to which they acknowledge the scale of a task that cannot be managed through manual process alone.
Although technology is important, it’s only one part of the solution. Our research shows companies are also investing in their people to ensure they use data wisely and responsibly. Nearly 70% of companies are hiring or training their staff to build expertise in data science, analytics, change management and ethics.
We are moving towards a future of ‘experiential privacy’, where customer experiences and privacy intersect. Companies are beginning to view data privacy as a positive differentiator rather than just a compliance obligation and will increasingly build it directly into their digital offering. After all, a customer can’t have a great experience unless they are aware and at ease with the ways in which their data is being handled.
The companies that can learn to deliver privacy by design will be the ones who stand out in the years to come. That’s why smart companies are putting in the hard work now to get their data in order today. Now is the time to tear down the data silos in your business, and explore how technologies such as AI can help you manage your data on a larger scale. Now is the time to develop a strategy that puts customers first without compromising on their privacy or the quality of their experience.
Read the Adobe Context is Everything report to see which countries are investing in data management systems and AI to gain control over their data and improve their digital customer experience.