What do we need our data to do for us? As consumers, viewers, listeners and more, we are all participants in an exchange of data as we purchase new goods and services, and consumers of data as we watch and listen to media and entertainment. People are now aware of the data foundations girding these activities to the extent that someone — or something — is “behind the curtains,” pulling the strings to make things happen. Privacy concerns remain, but most people are willing to exchange their data for a positive experience and clarity into what's going on behind the curtains. 

Data volume grew from 18 zettabytes in 2016 to 64.2 zettabytes in 2020 and is predicted to reach 181 zettabytes by 2025, according to Statista. Organizations collect an estimated five times more data today than they did 10 years ago. So what does this mean for the consumer? From a quantitative point of view, the data is growing. From a qualitative perspective, is it becoming a better-quality data exchange, and are we delivering better experiences?

Fundamentals of the Data Process

The logic goes, the better the question you ask, the better the data you capture. Data integrity is critical to business and the consumer experience, as is trust and certainty that the data is accurate, usable and responsive. Make the data meaningful, manage it well, and adapt to change through continuous learning and improvement.

There are many participants in this data process, so remember the following:

People are the primary participants with the exchange of data in customer experience. We need the data, and the data needs us. Don’t sacrifice current efficiencies or ease for complicated technology because people are more than worth it in this process. Make any data exchange meaningful and make it matter. Support should make the user's day to day easier and not more complicated. Well managed FAQs go a long way, as do online chat functionality and AI-driven personalization — which are all driven by good quality data.

Process is fundamental to the “how” data is being used, how it is exchanged, and how it can be used. Good quality data ingestion and technology workflows should be the priority, as they allow for the whole thing to happen.

Technology should help and not hinder processes, as it is an amplification of business operations and the fulfillment of what is to be achieved. It needs to be guided and influenced by data ingestion and carried through from beginning to end for the consumer in a friendly, positive interaction.

Data is the foundation of any successful business strategy, and needs to be centered on quality and consistency, unchanging from user to user. Good data allows technology to communicate and optimize the process.

Related Article: Getting to the Heart of Data-Driven Experience Optimization

Learning Opportunities

Connected Is the New Raison d’Etre for Content

Modern business content systems such as a DAM, PIM, CMS and ecommerce will accelerate the conversation between business and consumer. All the integration and interconnectivity between business applications strengthens the argument for strong and authoritative metadata, and for effective workflow management. Businesses creating and disseminating brand and marketing messages and products will engage with the consumer community who will respond with shopping behavior, internet searches, assets and data such as reviews, comments, images, check-ins and other online actions. Data serves content as a connection between people, process and technology.

Data Is the Foundation for Business Today

Data is the foundation for everything organizations do in business and how they interact with their customers. Data is proliferating, and that growth is only going to continue exponentially. As it multiplies, organizations need refreshed, enterprise-level approaches to systematically create, distribute and manage data. Hand-in-hand with this expansion comes increases in regulation on how organizations must manage and protect the privacy of their and their customers’ information. Data is intimately associated with business transactions and the associated actions by people — it demands our attention. The struggle to manage content within the digital world is as complex as the digital workflows underpinning the efforts. This provides the link allowing processes and technology to be optimized, and hopefully where learning and intelligence may begin. 

What’s your data-driven customer-centric strategy? We want the data and the machines managing it to learn and do more, but we must provide them with good, quality data in order for them to do that. Good data = smart data = good learning = happy customers. But if the data delivered does not match the user expectations, then the efficiencies of a personalized, and meaningful consumer experience are lost. Begging the question, what’s a machine got to do to get some good data in this town?

Related Article: Is Your Company Data-Driven or Data-Informed?

Know Your Data 

Data comes in different shapes and sizes. We have structured data, those identifiable pieces of data, such as name, address, location, etc., that are found in database fields and structured for use. But businesses are also full of unstructured data. Using the example above, if a date is included in a piece of unstructured data with no field to provide control and structure, what can it tell you? You'll need to wrangle all that data to create a more structured sense of purpose for the content in your organization. The structure makes information more relevant, palpable, understandable and useable. An intelligent and robust metadata model and data dictionary will provide that reference model.

Data, information and content feed business — CRM data, finance, HR and customer data can all contribute to growth and innovation. Attention to how this data has been created, captured, leveraged and how it creates value is the key value proposition of a business’s digital strategy. This foundation can inspire and provide the groundwork for the transformative digital strategy that expands markets and manages complex, consumer-centered supply chains. The strategy is never finished but is a continual process of leveraging the collective intelligence of a network of consumers and providers for rapidly cycling invention. As long as change exists in business, so too will your data strategy change, requiring active participation from everyone involved.

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