Leading through ownership of personal data, this is what you should know!

#innovation #data

Enabling or blocking? Sovereignty of personal data.

Within the digital world, individuals are mostly viewed as — potential — consumers (obviously already a high share) or patients (currently growing share). The data of individuals needs to comply to the regulations within the country or region where the data is collected, i.e., it needs to fit with privacy and security.

Companies are building views on individuals, based from the name, address, email etc, which have been provided through every registration to an online service. As well as online behaviour, e.g., through tracking cookies. These centralised views or centralised identities are stored within silo-based platforms. Neither personal data or individual behaviour are well portable. This means that your digital identity exists in many small pieces with several companies knowing different information about you. This also means that you have to create a unique password for every profile you make, which can be cumbersome, and many tend to use the same password more than once. All of this creates security risks, since your personal data is being stored and managed by many entities and because a password breach might give access to several of your accounts.

An attempt to address these issues is federated identities. Individual identities are managed in a company or government centralized system. The system then distributes the data from the individual to a digital service. Examples where this is in use is within banks, insurers, retail and health. A federated identity enables easier digital activities through a single-sign-on solution However, a federated identity is still silo-based, since it only can be used with web services that accept this solution.

“………That’s right, SSI sets data ownership at the individual level.”

A next generation of identity solutions that is currently being developed and taken into use is self-sovereign identities (SSI). This type of digital identity is a user-centric identity solution that allows you to be in control of your data and only share the strictly relevant information. An example would a situation where you need to prove that you are of age. With an SSI you can document that you are over 18, without disclosing your exact age. Or documenting that you have received a specific vaccine, without disclosing information about all the vaccines you have ever gotten or other sensitive health data. Other examples are sharing that you have graduated to your — future — employer, your medical record with a hospital and your bank account with a store. In your own personal vault if you like (also: a ‘holder’ or ‘wallet’), you own and manage your data. That’s right, SSI sets data ownership at the individual level. Data ownership would resolve a large topic, that often proofs to be a blocker for companies to fulfill their digital ambitions. From this vault you decide to which companies & organisation you want to share your personal data to be defined per specific purpose. For this purpose, personal data needs to be classified (e.g., in accordance with privacy & security regulations) which data is open for all, which is private and which is secure data. The vault provider needs to have good technical solutions (e.g., with verifiers and encryption), a sufficient governance regime and controls in place to support this.

SSI will mean that individuals need to understand what ownership comprises of, what potential risks are and what good practices are to share data. Data literacy should be extended from mostly companies to more individuals. And companies should prevent technical, legal, ethical, fairness and security pitfalls (see also: 10 principles for SSI), e.g, for transparency for systems & algorithms as well as data monetization.

Owning the use of data

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Why your company needs a Chief Data Officer.

It is time to increase acknowledgement of the importance of a chief data officer.

As companies move towards working data-driven, monetizing data in new and enhanced services and products is essential. Traditionally heavy regulated industries, e.g. financial and health, first focused on bringing their data in control. Their efforts concentrated mainly around data quality management, data privacy, data governance and E2E trusted data lineage. These efforts are often led — or owned — by a Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In this article, we advocate to shift or extend this focus of the chief data officer towards data in control AND data in use.

CDO’s define and communicate the companies vision on data management and data use. Through this vision, the CDO gives direction, guidance, advocates for change and sets priorities for running projects. Most companies CDO’s have to some extent achieved this for data management. The extended focus of Chief Data Officers, which we advocate for in this article, contains standard processes for the design, prototyping, development, productizing and use of data & insights products & services. Furthermore, it is the CDO who defines a standard set of technology to be used to support these processes and create these solutions. Where needed, this is based on the data management foundation as implemented by the CDO in previous years.

The Chief Data Officer ideally combines business expertise, technology background and analytics/BI. Extended by a common commercial sense, understanding of production processes and knowledge of relevant 3rd party partners to cooperate with. Organisations without an ‘extended CDO’ will experience difficulties and potential delays in reaching their data-driven goals — in accordance with new developments in the market. Without strategic guidance and steering, there is an increased risk that departments and units will define their own standard processes, set of technology and data-driven products and services. Making it harder to leverage pre-existing data foundations as well as cross-unit collaboration to enable effective market penetrations. Teams will struggle to escalate and address growing concerns as sufficient C-level representation is missing.

Concluding, companies benefit from a Chief Data Officer with a focus on data in control and data in use. Top-down ownership and alignment of data initiatives, standardisation of processes and data tooling and a clear escalation path for growing concerns are necessary to succeed as a data-driven company.

Data quality to resolve 3rd party cookies ban

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Marketeers and dedicated advertising benefit from good data quality

Google announced its intentions to kill off the tracking cookies (so called 3rd party cookies) within its Chrome browser. Cookies which advertisers use to track users around the web and target them with dedicated ads. Google is not the only major player altering the digital ad landscape. Apple has already made changes to restrict 3rd -party cookies, along with changes to mobile identifiers and email permissions. Big Tech altering 3rd party cookies is caused by the need to be respectful of the growing data privacy consciousness. Most consumers don’t like the feeling of being tracked across the internet (70% of U.S. adults want data regulation reform and 63% of internet users indicate that companies should delete their online data completely).

For most marketeers, this paradigm change presents huge challenges to enable customer acquisition by tracking users and targeting them with dedicated digital advertising.

On the other hand, 3rd party cookies are inherently problematic, from limited targeting capabilities, inaccurate attribution to the personalization & privacy paradox. Their loss presents an opportunity to provide a smaller group of high-value customers with higher-caliber and increasingly personalized experiences. In other words, losing these cookies might become a blessing in disguise.

Confronting data acquisition challenges in a cookie-less future

For all the shortcomings of 3rd party cookies, the marketing industry does not yet have a perfect answer for how to acquire customers without them. Marketeers are waking up to the impactfull change they are facing. One potential answer to the loss of 3rd party cookies can be that they will be replaced with 1st & 2nd* party data, i.e., gathering data shared directly by the customer, such as an email address, phone numbers and customer authenticators (see below). This data can become the mutual currency for the advertising business. First party data can be hard to obtain, you need to “earn” it, including solutions on how to gain good quality 1st party data.

Technology Section

Some solutions focus on technology, e.g.,Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). A type of web tracking that groups people into “cohorts” based on their browsing history for interest-based advertising. Other technology solutions include building a 1st and 2nd party data* pool, i.e., a Customer Data Platform (CDP). CDPs are built as complete data solution across multiple sources. By integrating all customer data into individual profiles, a full view of customers can be profiled. Another solution are private identity graphs that hold all the identifiers that correlate with individuals. Private identity graphs can unify digital and offline first-party data to inform the single customer view and manage the changes that occur over time (LINK?). this helps companies to generate consistent, persistent 360-degree view of individuals and their relationship with the company, e.g., per product brand. All to enable stronger relationships with new and existing customers.

Earning good quality data will increase the need for standardized and good quality customer journeys. And therefore, the need for standardized and good quality data.
Where previously, design and data quality were not closely connected, the vanishing 3rd party cookies now acts as catalyst to integrate both.

Data quality is usually an unknown phenomenon for most designers**, design companies, front- & back-end software developers and marketeers. It requires a combined understanding of multiple domains, i.e., the user interface where data will be captured, the underlying processes which the captured data will facilitate, data storage & database structures and marketing (analyses) purposes.

Finding the expert that has all this combined knowledge is like finding a real gem. If you do, handle with care!
It will be more likely that all domains will need at least an understanding how their domain enhances and impacts the other domains.

For the (UI/UX) designer:

  • Have a good knowledge of data quality rule types. What is the difference between a format & accuracy type? Is timeliness of data relevant? What are pitfalls for data quality rules? How to integrate multiple purposes (e.g. processes, data integration & analytics) into a dedicated data quality rule.

For product owners:

  • Ensure that expertise of data entry and how data is used within processes at a granular level (i.e., on data field level). Onboard a so-called data steward who can facilitate the correct input for data quality. Let the data steward cooperate with front-end developers and designers.
  • Keep your data fresh. Data doesn’t last forever. Make sure data stewards support data updates and cleansing.
  • Data stewards should work with designers and front-end developers to determine which fields are considered as critical. These fields should be governed by a strict regime, e.g., for the quality and timeliness of data as well as for access to the data and usage purposes.
  • Personal authentication is a separate topic that needs to be addressed as such. Relying on big tech firms as Facebook or Google can seem an easy solution, however increases the risk of being dependent on an external party. Yet authentication needs to be earned to build authentic customer relationships. When customers give a company a verifiable durable pieces of identity data, they are considered authenticated (e.g. signing up for a newsletter or new account via email address). This will be a new way of working for most companies. Therefore, data stewards need to up their game and not only know existing processes but extend their view, understanding and knowledge towards new developments.
  • Data stewards must align with the Data Privacy Officer on how to capture, store and process data. When it comes to privacy, compliance and ethics, you can never play it too safe.

For data storage & databases:

  • Ensure that data architecture (or at least a business analyst) is involved in the design process. This is sometimes resolved by the back-end developer (who cannot work without aligning with the architect office on data integration, models for databases and data definitions).
  • If standardized data models and/or data definitions reside within the organization, this should be part of the database development. Refer to authoritative source systems where possible.
  • If the application is made via low-code, standardization of existing data models/architecture, data definitions and data quality rules is often part of the approach. Yet, data quality checks should always take place as separate activity.

For marketeers:

  • Understand how customer journeys can facilitate 1st and 2nd party cookies. Determine which data is needed for insights. Gather insights requirements and work together with the data steward to define data quality rules that facilitate your insights. Now that the 3rd party source is limited, the value of the customer journey for marketing increases!
  • Privacy is one of the catalysts to make 3rd party cookies disappear. This requires a new approach for acquiring personal data for marketing and ad targeting. New developments that require new skills and more importantly, a new cooperation between existing domains. Companies that enable this, will lead this new way of working.

Footnotes:

* Data from 1st party cookies = occur only within a company’s own domain. & data from 2nd party cookies = ca be used within and outside a companies’ own domain. This article takes mostly 1st party data into account. For 2nd party data, you can further investigate e.g., ‘data co-ops’, complementary companies that share data. Each member of the co-op should relate to the others in a meaningful way because outside of your own web domain, you’ll be able to reach customers only on your partner sites — and this reflects on your brand.

** Of course, there are designers work who work with data enabled design. In the view of this article, this is a different topic, more focused on tracking & logging data, which is then analyzed to improve the design. This article is about good data quality when data is entered via a UI, e.g., as part of a customer journey.