A silver lining: GDPR the catalyst for customer 360?

 Anyone whose job it is to keep on top of compliance requirements will be au fait with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the looming deadline of May 2018.

But how many of us realise that the GDPR cloud hanging over any organisation that holds EU citizens’ personal data also has a silver lining?

The silver lining comes from using the underlying IT changes required for GDPR compliance to get your customer data in better shape.

While compliance will undoubtedly be a complex task for large organisations given the volumes and types of data involved, this new regulation offers the chance to profit from these efforts. Key to this is that unravelling the labyrinthine web of data currently residing in numerous silos to comply with GDPR, gives you the chance to build a 360-degree view of your employees, customers or citizens.

The specific GDPR requirements are still a movable feast at the country-specific level because each member state must interpret the regulation and decide upon its own recommendations and enforcement practices. Although it might seem hard at first glance to start preparations, there is a lot that can be done now, even without knowing the final requirements.

GDPR sets out new responsibilities for organisations to adhere to regarding PII (personally identifiable information) data, so organisations first need to identify all PII data, determine how best to store and process it, and make decisions on its continued existence and usage.

>See also: Is GDPR still a threat to post-Brexit data protection?

This potentially presents organisations with an enormous data processing headache. But there is in fact an easy way to bring all these silos of data together. As a number of banks have already discovered, an operational data hub built on a flexible, enterprise-grade NoSQL database with integrated Google-like search, can pay dividends for data challenges where the data and requests from regulators change over time.

An operational data hub significantly reduces the risks associated with not being able to find the data or action a specific request by a given deadline, thereby avoiding GDPR fines, which can be up to 4 percent of global revenues.

As many of the steps with this approach are automated, the cost of achieving compliance – and the ongoing operational costs of maintaining compliance – can be reduced considerably, when compared to a manual approach.

One customer who attempted a manual approach first was only able to identify PII at a system level – that is, what systems had PII – even after having a team of several people working on the project for 18 months. So they still did not necessarily know what that PII was or who it related to!

By choosing to record, organise and index both the systems that contain PII data and the PII data itself using an operational data hub, organisations can not only be ready for GDPR compliance, but can also automate many of the steps required, saving considerable time and effort. Importantly, the data hub model is also flexible enough to adapt as the regulation evolves, without requiring costly extract, transform, load (ETL) work.

It’s also possible to reap more long-term benefits from a 360-degree view of all individuals who interact with an organisation. So what starts out as a risk reduction exercise to comply with GDPR, becomes a way of creating new revenue-generating applications and services for the business, while boosting customer satisfaction.

By gathering and identifying all of the PII data an organisation has on any individual, how and why this data is being used, and commonalities between data sets, organisations automatically gain valuable insights into the touch points for every individual.

This can be leveraged to give customer service, marketing and sales teams a joined-up view of customers and prospects – a golden record, if you like, of everything relating to a customer (or in the case of a B2B organisation, individuals working for each customer).

>See also: Change is coming: the GDPR storm

The quantity of types of data can be enormous. Each golden record may include behavioural, social, transactional, descriptive and product/service data taken from multiple sources including CRM systems, analytics databases that record user click-through/search, web site registration systems, fulfilment systems, call centre audio records, marketing databases, LinkedIn and more.

With a 360 degree view of each customer, organisations can increase revenues and reduce churn by being better able to identify and manage customer interactions as well as targeting individuals with more tailored, contextual offers across multiple channels.

Plus, customer satisfaction can be enhanced by giving customer-facing representatives all the customer-specific information they need to respond to a customer’s request or complaint accurately and quickly.

There’s no doubt new legislation could send the IT team into a tailspin. But this time, look at it as a golden opportunity. And the icing on the GDPR data hub cake is that organisations can turn what started out as a risk reduction exercise into a genuine business value activity.

These deeper customer insights give organisations a powerful platform from which to build a single, consistent and persistent customer view – and ultimately gain competitive advantage and drive up revenues.


 Sourced by David Northmore, VP of EMEA, MarkLogic

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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