Think for a minute about all the identities people have online – the apps, the emails, the ecommerce sites, cloud accounts, streaming video, and the bills paid electronically. Conservative estimates say average users have 20 to 25 digital identities. For some double-thumbers, it‘s more than twice that.
Sometimes, we even have more than one identity with the same company, say one that owns a lot of consumer brands that we reach through different websites and mobile apps.
Let’s think about all these identities as the puff ball on a dandelion. It only takes a slight exhale to scatter those dandelion spores all over the place. It’s a pretty sight as the fronds dance in the air. But what if each spore represented a data point for you, and now your data was scattered all over the internet universe?
Consumers and government regulators are now fighting back against the proliferation of this data diaspora. One especially important example is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which as of May 2018 requires companies doing business within the EU or with EU residents to consolidate and safeguard their data in ways that are accountable and easily visible to end users.
GDPR also requires a single point of control for personal data within each company, so that when a user changes his or her preferences about information sharing or being contacted, all the company’s databases with that user’s identity reflect the change.
For some companies – and I go back to the dandelion analogy – this is going to be a daunting or even impossible task because data is scattered and siloed.
The GDPR compliance requirements are backed by hefty fines for violators, but don’t let that be the only reason your company moves to consolidate its data into a single source of truth for each customer. Forward-looking companies are acting now to create a single entry point for changes in user preferences that can be echoed immediately to all other systems and databases.
This is a smart, cost-effective approach, whether done in-house or through third-party solutions, because it fine-tunes databases, leading to more productive data analyses, and a reduction in data management points and costs associated with data duplication, while increasing consumer trust.
That trust, it’s important to remember, is a lot like dandelion spores – once spread on the wind, trust can’t be gathered back.
By Jason Rose