A play in one act for data masters and digital marketers
Setting the scene: Working from home during a shelter in place order declared for a large U.S. city, two co-workers speak to and see one another in an online meeting initiated by the man. He appears on his co-worker’s laptop screen under the sign “IT your it” in the corner of what appears to be a home office. He is a balding, middle-aged man wearing jeans and an oversized grey Reed college sweatshirt sitting at a large glass desk with family photos visible on the wall to the side of him. He sees on his screen his co-worker who recently joined the company. She is a woman in her late 20s with short brown hair and is wearing a relaxed tee. She’s sitting at her coffee table in her family room.
Terry: Time to get your keyboard dirty, Jess.
Jess: Cool. What’s up?
Terry: Your first project. It’s for marketing. They just purchased a CDP.
Jess: Reminds me of the CDC. You know I used to work on health care systems, right?
Terry: Yeah, but this has nothing to do with the coronavirus or any other virus, thank goodness. I don’t know if you’ve met Janelle, our head of digital marketing, but she recently purchased a Customer Data Platform for her marketing team. We need to get our customer data together and get it into the platform. I haven’t looked at the CDP schema, but something tells me that you are gonna have fun – not! – with getting all the data we have on our customers shipshape for export to the CDP. Troy, Janelle’s designated project lead, thinks it should be easy peasy. As usual, they don’t get it.
Jess: No offense, Terry, but I’m not sure I get it either. Why do we need to export to the CDP all the data we have on our customers?
Terry: They tell me we need a 360 view of the customer to start. For past marketing projects, we’ve used all the data in our CRM and supplemented it with data from our enrichment feeds.
Jess: But what is marketing wanting to use the CDP for? I know we always want to increase customer engagement and purchases, but what specific use cases are they looking to use the CDP for?
Terry: Good question, Jess. I really don’t know.
Jess: The reason I ask is that at my last health provider gig, we followed a rule that could make sense in this situation. My friend, Sarita, who was our privacy officer, would remind us that when it came to using personal data for projects to “take only what you need”. She explained it was a HIPAA rule – the necessary minimum rule. Sarita also called it “data minimization”.
I know we aren’t gonna be dealing with personal health information here, but the rule seems to make sense for this CDP project because of the gobs of personal data we’re dealing with.
Terry: How so?
Jess: Well, while I get that our team wants to control the data, doesn’t it make sense to export to the CDP only the types of personal data needed for the specific purposes or use cases the marketing team wants to use the CDP for. I mean, why send information about income, race, or even customer phone numbers if Janelle and her team want the CDP to help us personalize the experiences people have with our company? The marketing team doesn’t need a phone number to recommend content or to personalize offers we send. Less is definitely more in my opinion.
Terry: Oh yeah?
Jess: Definitely! I learned that the less personal data shared with a third party, the better. What our security guys called the “attack surface” was reduced and there was less regulatory risk for the company too. We formed what we called a Data Council to review the data we would use for a given project and often did away with using third-party enrichment data altogether. We found that third-party data usually added little or no value to building a customer relationship and was often unreliable to boot. Besides, the little I understand about CDPs, it seems like they should be providing us meaningful data based on customer interactions with all of our communication channels regardless of if we know who they are or not. And the part I really liked about taking and exporting only the personal data types or elements needed for the chosen use cases was that when our Data Council forced a decision on what data was actually needed for a given project, we always ended up using way less data than we thought we’d need, so the job was done a lot quicker too.
Terry: That all sounds good to me. Less data, especially less personal data, means less headaches for all of us. You know we’ve got a privacy director here; Emerald’s his name. I don’t really know him but Katie on the services team says he’s a good guy and has helped her deal with some personal data retention concerns a client had. Tell you what, why don’t you set up a Zoom meeting for us with Janelle and Emerald. I’d like to start a Data Council of our own for this project. Actually, it sounds like a good idea for all our personal data projects from now on.
Jess: Awesome, Terry. Thanks for listening.
Terry: Hey, thanks for sharing. I listen, I code, ergo sum. Catch you at the 4 o’clock standup.
Jess: Ok, see you at 4.