Thoughts from 2017

Pulling Things Together

Now here’s the thing. Existing Customers want a more personalised service but don’t want to tell companies about themselves and Companies want a stronger relationship with their Customers yet struggle to build a comprehensive picture in spite of holding most of the necessary data. And today GDPR  is adding further complexity to the mix creating a series of unintended consequences through regulation.

In my opinion there is a general lack of systems thinking. That is, how all the pieces hang together. Remember the days when you walked into a shop or a pub and were greeted by either your first or second name and perhaps a phrase such as ‘the usual ?’. How did that make you feel ? Were you prompted to become a repeat buyer ?

However how would you have felt if you walked into an establishment you had never visited  before and you were greeted with the same familiarity? Would you have been freaked out ? How did they know that ? What else do they know ? I’m not going there again.

Does this now seem familiar to a number of projects that large digital organisations have running ? What most have missed or are unwilling to accept, is that the only sustainable model is where the Customer is in control. However control in an informed way and made aware of the consequences of their actions and requests. Something that GDPR regulation has still to address.

This is not a new concept. Project vrm, the UK government’s mi-data initiative, companies such as mydex have been working on this for a long time. They all struggled however to get the customer interested in the concept. How concerned are people about their data, unless it ends up in losing money or exposing secrets. Few companies have been able provide clear benefit to the customer of the benefits of sharing their data. They have however not been able to generate the same level of data exchange engagement that Tesco did with their Clubcard project.

Tesco are reasonably transparent what data they are holding and what they use it for e.g to provide the customer targeted offers and providing vouchers in return.  Take this further Facebook and Google provide customers benefits of sharing their data by supporting their social interactions or providing a powerful search mechanism. However both companies are less transparent to the end customer as to all the uses the data is being put to.

Although GDPR is on the lips of almost every data professional and its impact on customer rights, many of these rights have been on the statute books for quite some time with The Data Protection Act 1998. If you want to know what data a particular company holds on you simply need to raise a Subject Access Request (SAR)  and pay £10 (which will  be come free in May 2018 with GDPR). What will compel customers in May 2018 to get more interested in their data ? Hopefully it is not another wave of PPI investigators, who ‘obviously’ have the customers  best interests in mind !

So put your thinking caps on, how do we get a new age equivalent of the data exchange you used to have with your corner shop or favorite local. Unsystematic think could have a range of painful unintended consequences.