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Identifying the good, the bad and the ugly in the proliferation of data, and why it’s important to see the full picture

Accurate and effective marketing, customer service, operational efficiency and compliance are all reliant on the quality of the data you have at your disposal - and boy there is a lot of data out there. One high street retailer I know has to handle 130+ feeds of data per day. The data comes from a variety of sources such as POS, on-line, call centre, warranty, credit checks, product warehouse, CRM system, loyalty scheme, customer service, finance, partners, suppliers - and this is then multiplied across many brands.

The proliferation of data provides us with both challenges, and, if managed correctly, great opportunities.

So where to start? It’s all about being able to get a full and complete view of your data. Without the ability to bring relevant data elements together into a single view it’s simply impossible to ‘see the wood for the trees’.

Begin with asking yourself where you are on this journey and what might be holding you back:

  • Do we have a clear and accurate view of ALL of our data?
  • Are we able to bring it all together into one single view?
  • Do I have any duplicate data?
  • Have we challenged our assumptions of the data we have?
  • Is the data valid and up to date?
  • Is it in the right format to support our downstream applications?
  • Are we able to enrich our data further?  

Less is more

Just because there is more data available to us, it doesn’t mean we should, or can use all of it. Again, challenge yourself; what are we collecting, and for what purpose? What is more important – having the most data, or having the best data? The upcoming GDPR states “Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed...”[1]

It’s here that the importance of having a single, accurate view of your data becomes paramount. How do we know what is good data, what is bad and what is relevant if we have three, four or five or many more versions of the truth? Which customer record should we delete and which should we keep?

The key is being able to identify the most accurate and relevant data and bring it together to create a Single Entity View. Commonly this is around customer data and so when creating a Single Customer View (SCV), we recommend that organisations investigate, assess and then improve their data.  Achieving this requires cleaning, deduplication and matching and we do this by assigning a unique personal identifier against every record. Known as ‘ExPin’, our Experian solution uses two billion items of reference data to ensure a trusted and reliable end result is delivered.

“With great power comes great responsibility” 

The additional power we can leverage from data is countered by increasing levels of responsibility, with the upcoming GDPR being the most relevant focus point. Creating a SCV that supports compliance relies on having good quality data in the first place. Again, challenge yourself by asking:

  • Do we have appropriate data quality checks in place before allowing data into our organisation?
  • Do we have processes in place to keep data accurate? What do we do with inaccurate data?
  • Do our controls and policies prevent non-permissioned use?
  • Have we verified the integrity of our data?  

We can no longer make assumptions on what is contained in our data. To give you an example, one prospect we’re working with assumed that its marketing database wasn’t littered with offensive words but they were (very, very) wrong! It is our responsibility to investigate, assess, improve and then control the data we collect and use. This doesn’t have to be a difficult, time-consuming manual task. As the volume and variety of data grows so does the power of technology. By leveraging a robust Data Management Platform (DMP) you can quickly implement the ‘investigate, assess, improve and control’ approach that Experian promotes.

What if YOU could:

  • Profile and analyse data in order to identify risks and issues across any data type in minutes rather than days and hours?
  • Remove the burden of data quality from IT and reduce spend on outsourced technical expertise by leveraging a solution built to put data in the hands of the business user?
  • Validate and enrich data across any domain via a single platform?
  • Support all of your data migration, quality and governance projects via one platform?

At Experian we do all this with our own DMP (Experian Pandora) to deliver data-driven initiatives and we are consistently applying it to new scenarios due to its ease of use, the insight it delivers and its ability to monitor and measure data moving forward.

In my opinion the opportunities we have to build a true 360 degree SCV are greater than ever before - and more pressing. Making sense of the volume of data available by leveraging technology and data quality expertise means that you will be best positioned to identify the good, the bad, the ugly and then create a golden source that supports compliance and your business objectives moving forward.

If you’d like to know more about how Experian can help to deliver your SCV ambitions, visit our dedicated pages.  You may also be interested to read our new white paper ‘A data powered future’ which looks at key trends around how we will interact and engage with data in the coming years.

[1] https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/principles/

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