Are you collecting data for the sake of it?

With recent crackdowns worldwide on data breaches and more governments taking measures to protect sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands, transparency in data management is something of great concern.

This ranges from a brand’s intentions on wanting consumer data, what it will be using the data for and more importantly, the systems put in place for protection customer data.

“Everything comes at a cost. The convenience of getting a service or buying a brand comes at the price of giving up a bit of your data,” Prakash Chandrasekar, AMA head, e-commerce strategy, planning and analytics of Levi Strauss & Co said, at a recent panel discussion at Marketing’s Analytics 2016 conference.

When it comes to collecting consumer data, Sonali Verma, head of customer experience, innovation and analytics, DBS regional partnership, Manulife Singapore, stressed on the importance of getting information sensibly. Way often companies collect data, as though out of insecurity. That data, typically a massive form with many fields, then just sits in the warehouse with no business unit using it or needing it.

Instead of having a general method in data collection when it comes to finding out more about your consumers, asking the right questions is more important when it comes to data collection – leading to a better quality of understanding of consumers, according to Verma.

“Ask questions you actually need the data for,” Verma said, stating that she is often "wary of organisations who want to collect every information about the customer at the first point of contact."

There are many opportunities for the brand to know the customer throughout the customer journey. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the customer experience while collecting data as well and not putting the customer off at the time of collection.

Agreeing with Verma, Andrew McClure, head of marketing and analytics, Asia Pacific, AIG, added that there is no point in having data unless, it can be converted into actionable decisions that benefit consumers.

What is the future of analytics?

Being in the age of the customer where customers are now the centre of almost every business, the key differentiation according to Verma would be how well a brand knows its customers.

“It [understanding consumers] is an ‘outside-in’ perspective,” Verma said, which allows a brand to relate to the customer’s point of view, therefore building customer loyalty.

“With all the technology available, it is very easy for data to fall into the wrong hands. Use the information and data wisely, be transparent and use it in the interest of the customer by being as need specific as possible,” Verma added.

To McClure, the future of analytics is how it will eventually evolve into something which can be commoditised.

The source of differentiation will lie in the quality of questions brands pose to their customers and the quality of their marketing strategy.

“Marketing strategy is simply three things- segmentation, targeting and positioning. If you know your segments, you know who you are targeting and you know what to say to them, a big part of the job is done,” McClure said.

According to Chandrasekar, having revenue figures helps to address the common concern on whether or not data strategies are bringing in the right returns for the organisation and for customers is important.

"Five years ago was about building the right data architecture, two years ago was learning how to harness the data collected. The future of analytics and data is figuring out how to turn that data into revenue,” he said.

It will help ensure that data is being used in an optimal way, as well as provide justification for the investment in data strategies.