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Turning compliance into a profit centre

Posted on: Monday 28th of September 2015

Right now, a growing number of brands are experiencing internal warfare over customer data.

Compliance …

The compliance people are getting increasingly nervous. As the organisation taps into ever more data sets, they’re worrying about the provenance of this data, how ‘permissioned’ it really is, and whether the uses planned for it are really covered by existing T&Cs, privacy policies and brand promises. Or even if the data is correct.

They’re made doubly nervous by forthcoming European data protection regulations that could render some of today’s practices unlawful or at the very least legally questionable. This creates doubt, fear and uncertainty.

… or innovation?

On the other side of the coin, innovators and marketers are getting increasingly frustrated. They can see a million and one things they could be doing with data, especially as they connect existing databases with new data sources and streams. They see others forging ahead, gaining competitive advantage. They worry that they’re falling behind.Yet, far from helping them seize business opportunities, all the compliance people seem to do is put the No in InNovation.

A complex challenge

Debates and questions abound. Do we need to update our privacy policies? If so, in what way – to give ourselves more freedom, or customers greater confidence? What do we say to customers about what we are doing? Do we bury it in small print hoping nobody will notice, or do we take a strong, public position like Apple CEO Tim Cook? How do we manage consent and permissions processes when we know customers aren’t going to read 50 pages of T&Cs? How real should the ‘value exchange’ with our customers be, and how should we communicate it?

In short, how can we do more with our data while also addressing compliance risk?

A fresh perspective

In our work, we’re demonstrating that there is a way to square this circle: to transform data compliance from a cost centre to data privacy as a profit centre and we’ll be exploring it further at our Growth Through Trust conference in December.

It starts with a simple but fundamental mindset shift, a different departure point. Instead of asking ‘How can we maximise the value of customer data?’, try asking a different question instead: ‘How can we help our customers maximise the value of their data?’. How can we turn data management and use into a customer service? How can we make money out of partnering with our customers rather than discreetly monetising them?

Finding ways of deploying data as a tool in the hands of the customer means that questions relating to customer consent, permissions and control are naturally addressed as a by-product of the process of adding value. It helps position the brand positively for a new digital age. It creates an innovation and growth agenda based on compliance.

Breaking the logjam

Of course there are many difficult legal, technical, customer experience and communication challenges to be addressed. But with our programme they can be addressed on the basis of common internal purpose. And if some opportunities (such as, say, sharing data with third parties) have to be sacrificed, the sacrifice becomes more palatable when bigger opportunities in a different direction open up as a consequence.

Growth Through Trust

There need not be a battle between compliance and innovation/marketing. They can and should feed off one another. But this can only happen if the organisation puts its data relationship with customers on a new footing of value creation for and with the customer. Going with the grain of regulation and political & public opinion, rather than fighting it

As new EU legislation looms, and scrutinising business’ use of customer data becomes a media bandwagon, it’s vital that brands get their personal data strategies right. And they can.

Join us at our conference to hear from a wide range of pioneering brands and innovators who are doing just this: breaking the logjam to turn an internal conflict and problem into an external marketing opportunity.