Why brands must dig deep into their data for greater personalisation


Ask Net­flix to search for your favourite movie and it will take a split sec­ond to find it. Ask an avid film fan to find it in their col­lec­tion and they may retrieve it almost as quick­ly. But ask a hoard­er who has col­lect­ed every VHS and DVD they could get their hands on for decades, stor­ing them on shelves, in box­es in the attic, in the garage and under the bed and they prob­a­bly won’t know where to start.

Because it is 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 ear­li­er this 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 and 51% say they can’t col­late, struc­ture, and inte­grate it in a mean­ing­ful way. That is bad news for try­ing to get to know your cus­tomers bet­ter, but also it is not a great start­ing point for GDPR com­pli­ance and the two relat­ed issues have seen a knock-on effect from one to the other.

Accord­ing to our research, near­ly half (49%) of brands admit GDPR has held them back in terms of deliv­er­ing per­son­alised expe­ri­ences to their cus­tomers. Get­ting on top of cus­tomer data must clear­ly be a pri­or­i­ty for busi­ness­es and there are encour­ag­ing signs of progress across Europe. We are see­ing increased invest­ment in new tech­nolo­gies as brands look to get on top of their data man­age­ment, for the pur­pos­es of com­pli­ance but also cre­at­ing improved cus­tomer experiences.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion and com­pli­ance are inex­tri­ca­bly linked. And so they should be. Both rely on brands hav­ing full con­trol over their data and being able to make sense of that data quick­ly, be it to deliv­er more per­son­alised cus­tomer expe­ri­ences or to stay on top of regulation.

The invest­ment we are see­ing in AI in par­tic­u­lar, reveals com­pa­nies are feel­ing a sense of urgency to improve their data man­age­ment, while also acknowl­edg­ing the scale of a task which can­not be man­aged through man­u­al process alone.

But while tech­nol­o­gy is impor­tant, it is only part of the solu­tion. Our research shows com­pa­nies are invest­ing in their peo­ple too. Near­ly 70% of com­pa­nies are hir­ing or train­ing their staff to ensure they can use data to its full poten­tial and under­stand the impli­ca­tions of their actions on pri­va­cy, com­pli­ance and cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. More specif­i­cal­ly, they are build­ing skills around data sci­ence, ana­lyt­ics, change man­age­ment and ethics.

So we are mov­ing towards a future where cus­tomer expe­ri­ences and pri­va­cy go hand in hand and cre­ate what we like to call ‘expe­ri­en­tial pri­va­cy’. 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 great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence relies upon the cus­tomer appre­ci­at­ing the expe­ri­ence they receive, and in these days of height­ened sen­si­tiv­i­ty about our per­son­al data, also being aware and at ease with what data is being used, how and by who, to cre­ate that experience.

In this way, reg­u­la­tion such as GDPR may mark not only an impor­tant mile­stone in con­sumer data pri­va­cy but it’s also a turn­ing point for brands shak­ing off old habits of data hoard­ing and inef­fec­tive personalisation.

With GDPR, the EU recog­nised that peo­ple accept a cer­tain lev­el of data col­lec­tion when they inter­act with brands, as long as they are aware and feel in con­trol of how that data is used. For their part, com­pa­nies have a legit­i­mate inter­est in using that data to make sure their prod­ucts, ser­vices and expe­ri­ences are rel­e­vant. Cus­tomer con­sent is the key to bridg­ing this gap, and expe­ri­en­tial pri­va­cy is the key to earn­ing that con­sent while keep­ing your audi­ence engaged.

The com­pa­nies that will stand out in the com­ing years will be those that can deliv­er pri­va­cy by design, which is why they are rac­ing to get a bet­ter han­dle on their data today. Now is the time to tear down the data silos in their busi­ness, explore how tech­nolo­gies such as AI can help them man­age more data on a larg­er scale, and devel­op a strat­e­gy that puts cus­tomers first with­out com­pro­mis­ing on their pri­va­cy or the qual­i­ty of expe­ri­ence they receive.

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.

Bridget Perry

Posted on 11-05-2018

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