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Data Balancing – The Yin Yang of 21st Century Commerce

Jed MoleApril 18, 2013

Many people live richer, more rewarding lives because businesses, public services and not-for-profit organisations responsibly use, or balance personal data.

It’s all very well mastering the collection and analysis of that complex and plentiful unstructured resource we call big data – but to the average consumer, corporation’s archiving of personal information can offer a certain ‘dark’ impression. In reality however, that view is misinformed – big data providers are simply striving to achieve data goals focused on improving – not prying into – the lives of consumers, through balancing the use of personal data with privacy.

Data balancing facilitates the modern way of life

Big data – the collective overarching term used to describe the reams of varied unstructured information created as a result of our digital lifestyles (from social posts to mobile data, sales data and much more), is an incredibly valuable asset to both consumers and corporations. Allowing organisations to better know and connect with their customers, big data drives commerce, allowing consumer (and other everyday) experiences to be better personalised, boosting engagement across marketing channels and optimising customer value.

Making modern life a little more personal, balanced use of data simply means taking personal info, such as what we like, what we buy, where we go and what we do, and using it to make life easier. For example, data can be used to make ads more relevant for things you might be interested in, offer suggestions for things you actually like, and can generally give you a much more personalised and balanced world. Something which both the general public and data providers agree on, is that only responsible parties should have access and control over personal data – a key aspect of data balancing – meaning that though information is out there, it can only ever be used in ways which make sense and which customers have control over.

After all, if all data was completely 100% private, people wouldn’t be able to find each other on Facebook, wouldn’t ever find out about products they’re interested in, and wouldn’t have any records about themselves anywhere – pretty inconvenient for visits to the doctor, right?

What does considered balance look like?

So for organisations hoping to use big data to create this balanced, optimised world, what are the aspects which must be considered?

Security
Security is so, so important, and must be prioritised – organisations using big data have a serious, legal responsibility to keep the information they’re entrusted with secure, only using it appropriately. Encrypted/ sturdy systems and processes for ensuring appropriate monitoring, detection and resolution of potential issues must always be implemented.

Choice
With, or without data? Consumers should be offered a choice, or at least notified when their personal information is going to be used (think cookie policies). Providing choices, opt out or opt in options should be made available depending on the type of data under discussion, its intended usage and the regulations surrounding those usages. This encourages company/consumer transparency.

Transparency
Companies handling big data must be clear about information captured, their interactions (who/where it’s shared with), and should provide descriptions of how data is used to prove responsible secure use to consumers. Preventing organisations from appearing ‘creepy’ – people fear the unknown – this open, honest stance about motives encourages trust through transparency.

Compliance
Adhere to industry guidelines and regulations. Data protection laws are increasingly assessed to ensure responsible use, and for public protection. Organisations must ensure they follow these rules, and should not market inappropriately to vulnerable or inappropriate segments of the population.

Relevancy
Once big data analytics are successfully in place, organisations can deliver highly engaging, well targeted content based on individual preference and needs – this, for the consumer, is the fruit of good data balancing.

Long term customer value optimisation
Detailed information is most valuable to customised marketing campaigns as it makes them much more certain for the future – though the more detailed data is, the more sensitive information and privacy issues become. To be successful, organisations should remember that big data facilitates long term relationships – and must do everything they can to maintain them, rather than focusing on short-term results.

Creating better connections to enable better living for people, and better results for the people who serve them, big data organisations make the the world a better, more intelligent place. Creating better, responsible connections between data of all kinds – online, offline, advertising, branding, performance campaigns, etc, those who embrace connected marketing receive better results; turning information into insight, insight into action, and action into advantage.
So what does data balancing mean to you? Are there any other aspects of data balancing which you think should be highlighted?