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Data quality the cornerstone to long term GDPR compliance

Just a month ago, businesses and organisations that didn’t have well-defined processes, principles and standards in data management risked waste and inefficiency. Now, in a GDPR world, they also risk customer wrath and crippling fines.

But ongoing GDPR compliance doesn’t have to be a headache. In fact it presents an opportunity for businesses to adapt for a new, more valuable and balanced exchange with their customers.

Firms that put mechanisms in place to collect and leverage compliant, high quality data give themselves the best chance not only of staying the right side of GDPR, but of pinpointing fruitful areas for new business growth, and actually getting closer to customers in a context of transparency and fairness.

But it’s only by establishing good management and robust governance, and by using the best tools for the task, that firms can stay ahead.

Good Management

While a standardised GDPR data quality playbook has yet to emerge, IT departments and data officers, on the whole, know that the end goal is having slick systems through which data flows, and data lakes brimming with clean, compliant, agile, accountable info that’s ready to deploy.

To achieve that businesses need to find a pragmatic way to scrutinise and manage the existing data supply chain and take action.

Starting with data capture and integration, firms henceforth need to be mindful about how they collect, and process information. From marketing, cloud and digital systems to the CRM, businesses must look with fresh eyes – righting pain points and integrating privacy protocols.

GDPR data management

GDPR 2018 enshrines customer privacy. So when it comes to Personally Identifiable Information (PII), businesses and organisations must adhere to privacy by designprinciples. Using techniques like data masking, data anonymisation, and data pseudonymisation, they can protect PII data while maintaining its integrity and usefulness.

When it comes to legacy PII data, firms must inventory their archive and cleanse/ anonymise information. Moreover, it’s a GDPR essential that firms can show if, how and when customers opted in. So it’s important to be able to trace data, and to match individuals to their consent.

Robust governance

Defining and adhering to new data governance policies will ensure long term integrity. GDPR impacts all lines of business, not just sales and marketing, so governance must be holistic and absolute.

Each business is different, but data governance will likely mean implementing parameters around opt-in periods, or policies on when to archive historical data. Although many firms have taken the decision to install a Data Protection Officer to maintain standards, that person needs cooperation from all who use/ have access to in-house data.

This is especially true in bigger organisations. Multiple team members need to access data from different places on different systems and for different purposes. For example, the same customer’s information may prove helpful in sales and marketing and brand and logistics.

With that, it’s likely that multiple applications are being used to access data for an array of activities, such as email campaigns, billing, customer service or website personalisation. So standardising governance requires wide business buy-in and shrewd technological oversight.

Data governance and privacy

Governance protocols will have to evolve in areas such as privacy. If businesses wish to continue using data to personalise the customer experience then it’s worth taking a broad view of what exactly personal (or identifiable) data means in your world. You may be exposed in cookies, IP addresses, or in myriad tracking data.

One often overlooked GDPR requirement concerns organisations that gather data from underage people – they now must have systems in place to verify ages and gain consent from guardians.

GDPR also codifies an individual’s right to see and change the information a company holds on them – and they must be given it in a common, readable format. There’s also, now, a right to be forgotten.

So where organisations do not yet have a process for handling such requests, they’ll need to establish a mechanism that’s quick, thorough, and maintained by robust governance.

The right tools for the task

We’ve talked about the theory, but the practicalities of refining your data infrastructure is a matter of taking expert guidance – and using the right suite of technologies.

Implementing and adhering to new data governance practices isn’t purely about tying a business up in red tape, there are commercial advantages. Not only does good data housekeeping enable operational speed and efficiency, it allows for smoother integration with new systems, tools and plugins.

Post GDPR 2018, metadata management will be absolutely crucial in implementing data governance, documenting data, ensuring overall accountability and reconciling anonymised data into a 360° view of customers. Here, Talend Metadata Management and Talend Master Data Management are invaluable data governance tools. Talend Metadata Management enables data governance teams to trace data lineage, whilst Talend Master Data Management enables creation of a trusted data repository of key business entities such as customers, products and suppliers.

Talend Business Glossary, too, is a means of referencing and classifying all data: pinpointing where it is located all across the system and highlighting relationships dataset to dataset.

In the data lake, Hadoop can establish a native quality level while tools such as Apache Atlas and Cloudera Navigator can provide maps of business data. Integrating Talend’s Big Data Platform here will monitor all data flows, showing where different datasets come from and go to.

And to harmonise business best-practice – department to department, platform to platform – an array of self-service apps are available. Talend Data Preparation can put business owners in charge of data and facilitate better collaboration between business and IT.

Data Quality

Taking these steps will soon free firms up, enabling them to rely that compliant data – that’s unambiguous and of consistently high quality – flows through the organisation. At this point, customers and processes will move into sharper focus.

To demonstrate the advantages, Onepoint offers a Proof of Concept model so firms can hypothesise, map, test and show the impact a GDPR data quality project can have. By laying out KPIs before, and proving the ROI in a limited environment, we can determine what new data products can mean for a whole business.

Since 2005, Onepoint have been helping companies get the most out of data through changing times. We’ve come to see milestones like GDPR as an opportunity.

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