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In the aftermath of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses aren’t crying out for data superheroes; but for a complete, well-drilled data army. According to Gartner’s Research Vice President, Mario Faria, 90% of businesses will employ a Chief Data Officer (CDO) by the end of this year. However, in a world increasingly governed by data, it is no longer the sole responsibility of a c-suite to ensure compliance – every individual is equally accountable for protecting consumers’ privacy.

By 2020, the ePrivacy Directive will have added another string to the data regulation bow; further ensuring consumers have enhanced control over their information. It has therefore never been more important for data professionals – on all steps of the hierarchal ladder – to champion respectful data practices that are compliant with legislation; and there are three steps that can be taken to help reach this goal.

Step one: Prioritise trust

For a business to forge a reputation as a data leader, a multitude of transferable, holistic skills are required from its employees. Instilling an organisational culture that ensures the safety and security of customers’ data will help build trust from consumers.

Trust breeds loyalty, but such a reputation rarely comes from one spokesperson or C-level representative or spokesperson. Customers need to feel that the business as a whole fully understands their needs and acts as such across every interaction: data professionals are every bit as important as sales or marketing employees.

Transparency of data (what’s collected, how it’s used, who it’s shared with) is vital. Customers will no longer take a leap of faith. They need to be tangibly shown the value exchange that is occurring and the benefits they will receive from sharing their personal data, and be reassured their information will not be used inappropriately, or illegally. To achieve this, data professionals need to be instigators of these customer conversations, clearly communicating and explaining the technology being used, what it is for, and ensuring opt-in is requested to not only meet regulatory requirements but to also be as transparent as possible.

Step two: Centralise data to streamline the customer experience

Under the GDPR, an end-to-end view of the data supply chain is paramount, compelling organisations to consider what data they really need to collect and process, and which third parties are essential to business performance.

This encourages total transparency from the start and aligns with an overriding need to streamline data processes across the organisation. It is then easier to understand and share information from every interaction across the business. Bridging the gaps between data silos creates a centralised point of data control where identity resolution is used to stitch together the customer journey, through tools such as customer data platforms (CDPs).

This allows businesses to align themselves more stringently to the new regulatory environment, and deliver improved customer experiences by using a single, streamlined source of data to deliver more efficient, seamless, and better-tailored interactions. The end result is a set of data professionals who are not aligned in their data use, saving time and money, but who are empowering consumers in the process.

Step three: Ensure data quality for future success

The final step towards becoming a data leader revolves around quality. Inevitably, digital tools including automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are front and centre of the evolution towards a smarter, more reliable and connected world. But all technology is only as good as the data that feeds it and ensuring a solid data foundation is in place is the first step towards harnessing the benefits of new technologies.

Driven by data themselves, businesses need to take time to build a solid data foundation before diving into these new innovations, ensuring potential bias and inaccuracies are eradicated. Once this challenge has been overcome, digital innovations like AI and automation can be used to facilitate improved data processes and cement companies’ positions as data leaders.

Future-proofing through innovation is key to success in the digital age and data is the fuel that powers this. Following the crucial steps to foster trust, streamline internal processes, and build a strong foundation on which new tools can be utilised, any data professional can become a modern-day data leader.

By Lindsay McEwan, VP and Managing Director EMEA, Tealium

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