15-03-2018 Door: James Cotton

Solve Two Key GDPR Challenges With Master Data Management

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The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives EU citizens much greater control over their personal data, is set to be the biggest shake-up in privacy law in decades.

With less than four months until GDPR goes into effect, many businesses remain un(der)prepared or in denial of the looming deadline. But rather than focusing on the “stick” of compliance, it pays to think of the “carrot” of adopting a pro-privacy culture: it’s a solid way to inspire customer and employee trust, and can act as a catalyst for digital transformation that generates long-term business value.

Good data management is a somewhat overlooked competitive advantage – it might not be as sexy as chatbots or AI, but it’s at the heart of creating a stellar customer experience. The use of master data management (MDM) for product and customer records is well established, but most companies have yet to extend the practice to customer communication preferences and interaction histories, or their employee records. Preparing for GDPR presents an opportunity to do just that, so let’s look at two requirements of the regulation and how MDM can be used to address them.

• The right to rectification. Requires businesses to ensure that they can hand over the personal data provided by an individual in a useable and transferrable format.
• The right to erasure. AKA the “right to be forgotten,” requires businesses to be able to erase all of an individual’s personal information, wherever it resides, and present evidence of having done so.

The trouble is, trying to carry out either of these requests manually is a nightmare. Customer data can reside in dozens of systems – hundreds, even: in files, various databases, CRM systems, marketing automation tools, back-ups, archives and replicated copies. Every single one must be checked. And there can be multiple variations in the way customer identifiers are formatted, all of which need to be searched and accounted for. This sort of low-level data stewardship is error-prone, tedious work that nobody relishes and is ripe for automation.

As part of a data management platform, MDM technology and processes can help solve exactly these sorts of problems, by ensuring that every single IT system across the organisation uses data in the same way. By defining policies and rules that connect data from disparate systems into one file, MDM breaks down departmental silos to provide the much sought-after “single view of the customer” (or indeed, employee), all in one place. So, to illustrate, once you identify that the John Smith in your CRM application is the same individual as Mr J P M Smith in your billing system, a permanent connection is made, making it a snap to retrieve all related information from that point forward.

When it comes to rectification, if a customer asks you to provide their personal information in a spreadsheet, you can easily verify that the data you have is correct, export it, and send it to the requester. Similarly, when dealing with the right to be forgotten, MDM assists the process of locating every record that must be erased, and can generate an audit trail based on the data’s provenance as proof that the request has been complied with.

Of course, while MDM can help you meet the some of the requirements of GDPR, there is vast additional value to be gained from better data quality, consistency, and visibility, such as improving customer service, enabling more targeted marketing, and driving better decisions. So if you’re struggling to get executive buy-in for your GDPR efforts, you may want to reframe the benefits of MDM in a customer- or employee-facing context that will genuinely grab the attention of senior marketing, customer experience, and HR leaders.

James Cotton

James Cotton is the International Director of the Data Management Centre of Excellence at Information Builders. In this role he supports our customers achieving their strategic goals by designing lean and scalable integration-, data quality- and master data management solutions, working in close cooperation with worldwide product development teams. Mr. Cotton studied Corporate Information Systems and Technology and has since held various positions in global IT related companies. In his spare time, James is a vintage motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys racing drones badly.

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