Why it’s time to give staff open access to first-party data

There's a strong case for providing your staff open access to data— so long as the policies are in place.
23 January 2019

There are benefits to opening up your company’s data. Source: rawpixel/Unsplash

Going into 2019 – we know that a company’s first-party data is their most valuable asset.

Accessing, understanding and using that data to an organization’s advantage is no longer a luxury – it is imperative and may well define the short and long-term success of a company.

But how is that data handled? Who is it owned by? Who gets to access it, and who gets to call the shots on how to best use it?

Should your company’s most valuable asset belong to the IT department, your marketing or communications department, a business development department or only top executives and strategists? How does a company own and use its data to its greatest effect, for maximum results that benefit everyone internally and externally?

Traditionally, a company’s data has been captured, stored and owned by IT teams. The more that data use has evolved, however, the more time data teams have been spending on cleaning, preparing and delivering on data requests– and increasingly, studies are showing they’re simply not happy about it.

For the average marketer or business development professional who wants to capitalize on an opportunity to use first-party data in a timely way to make a sale or engage a customer– often the process is hindered due to data policies and procedures. Making a request to access consumer data via an IT team for a follow-up or full campaign can take days– and in worst case scenarios– weeks. In many cases, by the time the requested data is released, it is irrelevant. Customers have moved on, open windows to retarget strategically have closed and strong opportunities are lost.

GDPR and other data protection laws and policies have brought new complexity to the process, too. What happens if a request for data is processed, taking a few days or a week to complete and be handed over by an IT team– but in the meantime, a consumer has opted out of any further communications from the company? If the data takes too long to prepare, companies could miss crucial requests from consumers and potentially contact them after an unsubscribe request has been made– which could have major consequences.

So, onto the solution. We believe 2019 should be the year that company data is made accessible to all internally. All teams should have the ability to access and use valuable data in real-time, within a solid company framework and policy, for best results for the business.

Along with accessibility, ensuring self-service data consumption is absolutely critical. It’s timely for businesses to invest resources that lower the barriers to working with data. Structures should be simple and clean – but technically, data should be easy to work with and easily understood. Users from different skill-sets and backgrounds across a company shouldn’t have to learn technically complex tools in order to use the data effectively.

Extensive policies and processes to access and use company data can be laborious, ineffective and ultimately demotivate and demoralize employees. Different internal teams have different needs when it comes to utilizing data, and they should be able to harness the required data for its most effective use in real-time.

It’s company data – it should be company-owned and accessible company-wide– of course, within clear guidelines and frameworks. Perhaps it means a software upgrade, reviews of processes and policies or an entire remodeling of how data is captured and used by your company– but whatever the change, the benefits will outweigh the process of change.

The key to your organization’s data shouldn’t be kept and controlled by one department, making the process of moving forward as a business lengthy and stilted– the data should be accessible to all, in order for teams to make fast decisions in real-time that can lead to more conversions, better sales figures, greater consumer engagement and a stronger reputation for your company in the eyes of the public.

Contributed by Jana Marle-Zizkova, CEO & Co-Founder, She Loves Data & Meiro Pte Ltd.