Why Decluttering Your Data is the Secret to Better Personalisation

Any­one who’s heard of organ­is­ing guru Marie Kon­do will know her stance on the sacred pow­er of tidy­ing up. As Kon­do leads her clients in declut­ter­ing their homes, they inevitably come to feel a sense of calm and order in them­selves, as well as their new­ly neat and tidy homes. I’m not sug­gest­ing that tidy­ing up your data will lead to the same feel­ing of inner-peace, but adding some struc­ture to your data man­age­ment is cer­tain­ly going to help you make the most of its poten­tial. Because it’s one thing to col­lect infor­ma­tion with an ordered focus, it is quite anoth­er to hoard with­out a plan.

This is what too many com­pa­nies have been doing with cus­tomer data, scram­bling to col­lect as much as pos­si­ble with a vague inten­tion of get­ting to know their cus­tomers bet­ter, but with­out the sys­tems and process­es need­ed to actu­al­ly do so. The pen­ny dropped for some last year when the EU’s Gen­er­al Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR) came into effect. Com­pa­nies were forced to get to grips with the amount of cus­tomer data they held and many realised in the process how inef­fec­tive­ly they had been man­ag­ing it.

Adobe research reveals that 60% of busi­ness­es feel they have been col­lect­ing too much data, from too many sources, while 56% admit they can’t process that data quick­ly enough. Mean­while, 51% say they can’t col­late, struc­ture, and inte­grate it in a mean­ing­ful way. This isn’t help­ing brands get to know their cus­tomers bet­ter, and it’s not help­ing them com­ply with GDPR either. Accord­ing to our research, near­ly half (49%) of brands admit GDPR is hold­ing them back from col­lect­ing the data that would fuel more tar­get­ed and per­son­alised campaigns.

Earn­ing the right to gath­er cus­tomer data should be a top pri­or­i­ty for busi­ness­es. But brands should also ensure they are trans­par­ent and eth­i­cal in the way they col­lect data, as fail­ure in either area will quick­ly erode cus­tomer trust. Dig­i­tal integri­ty is com­ing to play an increas­ing­ly impor­tant role in cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, lead­ing con­sumers to spend more, and more often, with the brands whose val­ues align with their own. Peo­ple want to buy from brands they trust, and respon­si­ble han­dling of data is essen­tial to build­ing that confidence.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion, com­pli­ance, and trust are all inex­tri­ca­bly linked. And so they should be. Each relies on brands hav­ing full con­trol over their data and the way it is used, be it to deliv­er more per­son­alised expe­ri­ences, to offer more trans­paren­cy to cus­tomers. The invest­ment we are see­ing in AI in par­tic­u­lar, shows just how eager com­pa­nies are to improve their dig­i­tal integri­ty, and the extent to which they acknowl­edge the scale of a task that can­not be man­aged through man­u­al process alone.

Although tech­nol­o­gy is impor­tant, it’s only one part of the solu­tion. Our research shows com­pa­nies are also invest­ing in their peo­ple to ensure they use data wise­ly and respon­si­bly. Near­ly 70% of com­pa­nies are hir­ing or train­ing their staff to build exper­tise in data sci­ence, ana­lyt­ics, change man­age­ment and ethics.

We are mov­ing towards a future of ‘expe­ri­en­tial pri­va­cy’, where cus­tomer expe­ri­ences and pri­va­cy inter­sect. Com­pa­nies are begin­ning to view data pri­va­cy as a pos­i­tive dif­fer­en­tia­tor rather than just a com­pli­ance oblig­a­tion and will increas­ing­ly build it direct­ly into their dig­i­tal offer­ing. After all, a cus­tomer can’t have a great expe­ri­ence unless they are aware and at ease with the ways in which their data is being handled.

The com­pa­nies that can learn to deliv­er pri­va­cy by design will be the ones who stand out in the years to come. That’s why smart com­pa­nies are putting in the hard work now to get their data in order today. Now is the time to tear down the data silos in your busi­ness, and explore how tech­nolo­gies such as AI can help you man­age your data on a larg­er scale. Now is the time to devel­op a strat­e­gy that puts cus­tomers first with­out com­pro­mis­ing on their pri­va­cy or the qual­i­ty of their experience.

Read the Adobe Con­text is Every­thing report to see which coun­tries are invest­ing in data man­age­ment sys­tems and AI to gain con­trol over their data and improve their dig­i­tal cus­tomer experience.