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How data collaboration can drive digital transformation

The type and quantity of customer data available to companies is changing, due to increased privacy concerns. We’ve already seen greater regulation of data collection and use, and sometime this year the world’s most popular browser – Chrome – will follow its rivals, Safari and Firefox, and begin blocking third-party cookies.

These changes will inevitably have an impact on companies in their digital transformation journey. As part of its Digital Transformation Festival, The Drum partnered with LiveRamp to bring together a panel of experts to discuss one promising route forward: data collaboration.

At the start of the discussion, Vihan Sharma, SVP, Safe Haven & MD Europe, LiveRamp defined data collaboration as: “Bringing two or more companies together so that they can interconnect their own first-party data, to either create insights, better build a better understanding of their own customer, or orchestrate any outcomes in terms of personalised customer experience.”

Sharma identified three key takeaways from the session:

  • Collaboration is a journey. You need to think about it over a longer period of time with clearly defined goals and outcomes.
  • In order for collaboration to be successful, you need to focus on first-party data. Brands need to ensure they have a first-party data asset which they can leverage from a collaboration perspective.
  • Privacy is extremely important, and privacy preservation will be a key component in building trust between parties so they can safely and securely collaborate with data.

Legal trumps technical

Hemant Chauhan, Global Lead, Innovation and Partnerships, Marketing Data Science, HP pointed out that the combination of these three factors means that data collaboration discussions tend to be far more focused on legal and regulatory aspects than technological ones.

“There has to be a strong reason to collaborate, because it’s very labour intensive’” he said. “I work with retailers with whom I’ve been having discussions since early 2018. Eighty per cent of those discussions involve legal teams and only 20% involve data science, because the legal and regulatory implications are massive if things don’t go right, and because regulation itself is such a patchwork.”

As Chauhan noted, for a company like HP working through retailers in multiple regions, this means data collaboration is extremely complex.

“Every country has a different set of retailers or partners. So every time you go into a new country, let alone a region, you start from scratch.”

What emerged from the discussion is that the result of this regulatory complexity is that the final decision on a partnership will commonly lie with the privacy team.

“For us, commercial is the driver, then it goes no further if infosec [information security] and privacy are not happy,” explained Tatiana Kalinina, SVP Business Development, THG. “They’re the king of decision-makers. And then because data is so critical to how we operate as a business, it will inevitably need to have sign off from the CTO and CEO of the business as well.”

Anthony Hitchings, Digital Advertising Operations Director, Financial Times, concurred.

“At the FT, we’ve got a data governance council, which has all the data and compliance people in there. If we’re looking to do anything, it will go via the data governance council, and we make sure that we’re comfortable with it as an approach. So it’s board-level decision making for anything that we’re doing with regards to our data and our strategy.”

Chauhan summed up: “Data collaboration is extremely vital, especially in today’s landscape, where data quality and data access regulations are ever-evolving. Therefore, one-to-one relationships become even more important, and being able to understand your audience, being able to understand the data you hold, being able to ensure data clean environments that are shareable, will be critical moving forward. Therefore, the future of data collaboration is not on digital trading spaces, but in boardrooms and meeting rooms.”

The Panel:

Hemant Chauhan, Global Lead, Innovation and Partnerships, Marketing Data Science, HP

Tatiana Kalinina, SVP Business Development, THG.

Anthony Hitchings, Digital Advertising Operations Director, Financial Times

Vihan Sharma, SVP Safe Haven & MD Europe, LiveRamp

You can watch the highlights and key take outs from the full session above or here.

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