Data regulations and hiring plans: is your business ready to respond to data?

Seven in 10 businesses that have made investments in data quality solutions have seen a return on investment, but are enough SMEs prepared? Experian's Rebecca Hennessy outlines the benefits of data management in this time of change.

The challenge of data management has been made clearer for businesses getting to grips with the intricacies of the new regulations coming in to effect next May. Experian’s new global research has revealed that almost half of the businesses surveyed (48 per cent) are still struggling to meet current data regulations, let along changing regulations

Positively though, one in three businesses plan to hire a Data Protection Officer during 2017 to aid them in their journey to better use their business data and grow from it. It’s a necessary step as 72 per cent of companies said data quality issues had affected customers’ trust and perception of their business. Considering this issue in more detail, two in three companies (64 per cent) think inaccurate data is undermining their ability to provide an excellent experience to their customers.

In terms of that ever-present regulation, there is a mind-focusing £20 million in fines (or 4 per cent of global annual turnover – whichever is greater) for firms who are found to be non-compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Clearly, that’s a sufficient ‘stick’ for businesses to give this regulation the attention it demands.

In terms of the ‘carrot’, better customer and business data management brings its own reward. Businesses operate in a world built entirely on a data-grounded view, and companies of all sizes are in possession of more information about their customers than ever before. The survey demonstrates that businesses recognise the importance of data accuracy, and rightly so. It needs to be a primary focus to ensure they gain and maintain their customers’ trust and can serve them better to secure their long-term loyalty – enabling strong and secure growth.

In addition to the Data Protection Officer hires a third of businesses are planning this year, 37 per cent plan to recruit other ‘data champion’ and ‘data steward’ roles in 2017. Adherence to regulation should be a priority for all companies in 2017. By focussing on important initiatives that improve the organisation’s data quality maturity they will be on the right path towards complying with evolving regulation. One such challenge for these new data champions is establishing a Single Customer View (SCV) as the proliferation of channels continues to increase with more online interactions than ever.

Four in five (81 per cent) continue to report difficulties in achieving a single customer view. Yet for those who are leading in data management it is paying off. The survey found that businesses have been rewarded when they have been proactive: Seven in 10 (69 per cent) said when they have made investments in data quality solutions they have seen a return on investment.

Whatever the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations, many businesses are working to the assumption that Britain, like other countries currently trading with and keeping information on customers in the EU, will need to abide by the regulations in those markets. It’s the same in industries managing anything from toy safety to food hygiene. Data is no different in the updated compliance regimes that businesses now operate under.

From improved customer experience, to vastly reduced employee time spent dealing with data, better data management gives companies the competitive advantage to grow.

Rebecca Hennessy is the director of market strategy at Experian Data Quality UK.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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