The hidden dangers of data

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Howard Williams

Howard Williams, marketing director at Parker Software cautions on keeping a focus on ‘collected’ and ‘hidden’ data to continue building and improving your customer experience delivery

Nowadays, everything generates data. Every customer interaction and consumer click-through. Every in-store visit and late-night online splurge. Every transaction, every abandoned cart, every email opened or ignored.

And you collect that data. After all, it provides insight into what makes your customers tick. It shows you which marketing strategies resonate with your target audience.

It’s instrumental in informing our decisions.

So, data is valuable. This means that the more you have, the better, right? Not quite. Howard outlines the hidden dangers of the data we collect and asks, is it worth the risk?

Dangerous data
When we collect data, we become liable for its use, storage, and protection. Mishandling it costs you money and customers. You already know to use it carefully, to ensure the best security you can. But there are also less obvious data dangers.

The risks of the data we don’t use, yet still collect, are more pervasive than you might think. Some 90% of collected data goes unanalysed, and it all presents covert risks to your business.

There are three main types of data prone to hidden dangers: legacy data, dark data and duplicate data. But what are the dangers that these data types bring?

Legacy data
Legacy data is the term for data that is outdated to the point of no longer being useful. Legacy data poses a serious hidden threat to your customer relationships.

Because it’s too old to be accurate, inadvertent use of legacy data means you’re operating on outdated insight. This could mean that your marketing strategy appears outdated and off-putting to your prospects. Or, it could translate into poor service and a frustrating experience for a customer needing help with a recent issue.

Dark data
Dark data refers to the masses of data that you don’t realise you’re collecting. It’s the data that’s stored, yet not known or analysed. Aside from the cost of storing all this unknown data, the hidden dangers of dark data lie in security and compliance.

A security breach of your dark data can do serious damage to your customer confidence and your wallet. Plus, you could be collecting data in a non-compliant way under GDPR. After all, if a breach does happen, the data that’s not useful to us is just as damaging as the data we use.

Duplicate data
Finally, there’s duplicate data. Duplicate data is exactly what it says on the tin: repeated stored copies of the same data.

Duplicate data isn’t always easy to spot and presents a hidden danger to your resources. The storage and protection of data cost money and other resources. So, with duplicate data, you end up out of pocket.

Use it or lose it
Mitigating the hidden dangers of data means optimising not just your data usage and security, but your collection practices too. That is, you should only collect and protect the useful data.

So, make sure you know where all your data is coming from. Shed light on your dark data and stop hoarding what you don’t need.

Next, it’s time to clean out the data cupboard. That means deleting all the non-useful data you’ve already collected. It means letting go of your legacy data and erasing duplicate data too. The best way to clean out the data cupboard is to ask yourself, ‘does the benefit of using this outweigh the cost of storing it?’

Mitigate the data danger
For the data we use, the risk is worth the reward. But not all data is equal. When we don’t use the data we collect; we’re risking a lot for little gain.