Nuts & Bolts - Eye on Privacy : The Evolution of Data Governance in MarketingOctober 2013 By Gwenn Freeman
In July, the Winterberry Group—in partnership with the Direct Marketing Association—released a whitepaper titled "The New Rules of the Road: Marketing Data Governance in the Era of 'Big Data'." Data governance in marketing is an evolving discipline, and it will be easier for all of us if we can work together to define and refine the best practices we can all follow.
Winterberry Group interviewed more than 130 executives in the industry as part of its research. One of the most interesting insights was only 32 percent of those interviewed strongly agreed that marketing data governance had been identified as a priority for their organizations. As the whitepaper pointed out, we've historically taken a reactive position with respect to data governance. Someone in our industry experiences a data breach, and we assess our own vulnerability. A new regulation is passed, and we modify our practices to comply.
The problem with viewing data governance in a reactive mode is it tends to incrementally limit the use of our data assets with each passing reactive cycle. Alternatively, if we can be proactive and take the time and effort to understand and implement appropriate processes and controls upfront, the resulting consistency and outward display of steady state policy may increase the value of our data assets throughout their life cycles.
The whitepaper offers practical advice in the form of the following five key actions for marketers as they develop a strategic data governance capability:
1. "Maintain an evolving map of your customer information." This is a long and arduous process if you are starting from scratch. For some of us, it's the obstacle we don't want to address. My best advice is to start with what you know. You will know more about the data you collected most recently than you know about historical data that gets moved with each system upgrade. If you no longer know the source or the original purpose of older data, take a hard look at the real value and the real cost of keeping this data around.
2. "Develop a unified data strategy." In a perfect world, you would have a data strategy before collecting or acquiring data, but we know that never happens. However, looking at the data you have, you can begin to develop an understanding of how it is used, what other data you need to drive your marketing, the ROI of current assets and cost/benefit of acquiring more data. You can begin to build a data strategy as you understand the financial implications of the data you have.