“In God we trust, all others must bring data.”
— often attributed to W. Edwards Deming

Data is the foundation for all that organizations do in business and how they interact with their customers. Data is proliferating, and that proliferation is going to continue exponentially. As data multiplies, organizations need refreshed, enterprise-level approaches to systematically create, distribute and manage data.

Hand in hand with the increase in the amount of data come increases in regulation on how organizations must manage and protect the privacy of their data, and even their customers’ data. Data is intimately associated with business transactions, which, in turn, are associated with actions by people. Therefore, data demands our full attention. Managing and safeguarding data is not just a technical challenge: The way humans interact with systems and processes must also be considered — good security is designed with people in mind.

Manage All Your Data Well

“Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay!” 
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”

Managing data is a challenge for most organizations doing business in multiple markets. It is no longer sufficient to have a single policy for content storage, security, retention and rights management. Each market may have its own set of requirements, and organizations in one market will collaborate with other organizations in other markets with other sets of rules.

In addition, as organizations expand into new regions, new use cases may alter the traditional life cycle of digital content. From inception, there must be an understanding of data use possibilities so that metadata can be designed to support a broad range of use cases. Leveraging content across markets improves the return on investment (ROI) that content may deliver, but it also increases the risk profile associated with the content. To mitigate risk, quality controls as well as rights management processes must be put into place.

Conducting a systematic data assessment gives an organization insight into where it stands in managing its information effectively. It is the first step in creating a road map to consolidate content from various systems, apply consistent metadata and maximize workflow, security and ROI. All of this is done with a view to determining whether the organizational data and content environment supports organizational objectives and meets regulations. In this spirit of systematic, consistent data management, it is also important to define and manage the brand’s purpose and function.

The data assessment should explore the following questions:

  • What is your data?
  • Where is your data?
  • What are you trying to do with your data?
  • How will you access (identify, retrieve and distribute) your data?
  • How are you able to use your data? (A question related to rights management.)

As organizations grow, evolve and pursue new opportunities in the global market, change will be the constant for the people, processes and technologies supporting business and marketing operations. Digital transformation plays a critical role in this change, serving as a focused center for content and operations management. Metadata, workflow, technology and cultural context all affect operations and must be addressed for many large organizations. Managing data is an opportunity to optimize the content life cycle.

Related Article: The GDPR Customer Data Management Action List: Ready, Set, Go

Data Is Our Responsibility

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
— Aldous Huxley

Learning Opportunities

The big deal with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica situation is that the data was mistreated and not managed with the care it deserves. Situations like that one are examples of how the misuse of data will happen and where trouble will occur.

Data needs governance. If we understand that data is something that has value to the organization, then it is clear that controls should be placed on access to that data. If controls are not in place, or if they are insufficient, the consequences can be embarrassing and costly. The company could sustain damage to its reputation and could even lose the trust of clients or consumers.

Data provides a foundation for digital strategy. Creating the whole solution — and connecting it throughout your ecosystem — means that your digital assets can be part of this innovation by generating revenue, increasing efficiencies and enhancing your ability to meet new and emerging market opportunities for your users. Embrace your content and understand all that you can about what it can do: Never stop asking questions. All of this requires data integrity — ensuring that your information is complete, correct and up to date. It is important to place controls on how, when and by whom data can be created, modified, deleted and used.

Related Article: Marketers, Data Collection and the E-Word: Ethics

Data Management Is at the Crux of Competitive Advantage

Data is a big deal. Data is in everything that we do, and we must treat it well and with responsibility. Great content isn’t really great until it is found, consumed and shared. The opportunity for content owners, marketing technologists and all those who manage content lies in understanding the value of your content and how it can empower digital operations from creation, to discovery, through distribution.

There can be no more reliance on or absolute comfort in what was, but only the willingness and ability to recognize that change is happening and to become an active participant in that change. Without such action, the risk of brand displacement, loss of intellectual property value, and the fiduciary irresponsibility of not knowing what assets you have will only make it more difficult to move forward.

Intimately knowing your organization’s content and how to optimally manage it is at the crux of competitive advantage in today’s world, where both personalization and data privacy are essential. Responsible data management leads to not only the clear understanding of what you have but also the ROI of managing that data effectively, enabling risk reduction, creating efficiencies and increasing opportunities for content monetization. Now more than ever is the time for responsible data management and good governance.

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