Posts Tagged ‘Data Governance’

Service Objects Processes 3 Billion Transactions and Saves 1.6 Million Trees

In March 2018, Service Objects reached a major milestone in the company’s history by validating over 3 billion transactions. Since 2001, Service Objects has enabled businesses located around the world to validate their contacts’ name, location, phone, email address and device against hundreds of authoritative international data sources, all with the goal of reducing waste and fraud.

The fast-paced growth of the company, which has over 2,500 customers such as Amazon, LendingTree, American Express, MasterCard, and Verizon, has been an instrumental part of reaching this record number of transactions. Processing over 3 billion transactions is of particular significance to Service Objects because corporate conservation is one of the reasons the company was founded. The positive impact of achieving this milestone has had on the environment includes:

  • 193 million total pounds of paper saved
  • 6 million trees saved
  • 6 million gallons of oil saved
  • 670 million gallons of water saved
  • 393 million kilowatt hours of energy saved
  • 295 thousand cubic yards of landfill space saved

According to Geoff Grow, Founder and CEO of Service Objects, the idea to start Service Objects came from his desire to apply math and big data to the problem of waste caused by incorrect contact information. Surpassing the 3 billion transaction mark translates into saving 193 million pounds of paper. He would never have dreamed that 16 years ago Service Objects would be able to fulfill its commitment to corporate conservation in such a significant way.

Corporate conservation is embedded in the company’s culture, as evidenced by its commitment to recycling, using highly efficient virtualized servers, using sustainable wind power, purchasing sustainable office supplies, encouraging employees to bike to work and embracing a paperless philosophy. Every employee is conscious of how they can positively impact conservation efforts.

To read the entire Service Objects’ story, click here.

Data Quality and Compliance

For most people, regulatory compliance sounds about as exciting as doing your taxes. And this is actually a pretty good analogy, because compliance and taxes are both obligations that won’t go away if you ignore them.

According to a recent article in CIO Dive, being concerned about compliance is actually a good thing, because concerns about confidentiality and data security can seriously erode trust in your brand; nearly 80 percent of Internet users in the US now worry about privacy, and 84 percent worry about their data being hacked. So in a very real sense, your data quality should be an important part of your product marketing and customer service strategy.

But let’s take our initial analogy a step further. Tax software packages have largely automated the burden of doing your personal income taxes into a simple data entry exercise. In much the same way, Service Objects’ API capabilities can help you create automated processes that put much of the burden of compliance on autopilot. Let’s look at three specific areas where we can help.

TCPA. The federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires businesses to protect consumers from unsolicited telephone marketing, particularly wireless users. Enforcement has increased and fines are steep, up to $1500 per call or text message. And since phone numbers change owners and line types constantly, you need an automated process to verify every phone contact for every phone-based marketing campaign, at both the time of data entry and the time of use.

Our DOTS GeoPhone Plus services can help keep you in compliance by verifying subscriber names against ones you have captured with valid consent, flagging the type of line (wireless, landline or VoIP), and providing a porting date so you can comply with TCPA’s 14-day deadline for incorporating changes. Learn more about our TCPA solutions here.

GDPR. If you do business with customers or prospects in the European Union (EU), their new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ushers in strict rules for the privacy, security, and data quality of individual consumer data as or, including clearly documented you have made every effort to keep y0uor contact data as up-to-date and accurate as possible. Fines for non-compliance can range up to €20M or 4% of annual turnover.

Article 5 of GDPR requires consumer data to be accurate, to avoid unsolicited marketing to incorrect contact information. Our address, lead and email validation capabilities can check and update your contact data, and we can also create a Certificate of Accuracy (COA) for each of your contact records to document compliance efforts. To learn how we can help you comply with GDPR Article 5, get a free GDPR Quality Assessment here.

Connect America. The federal Connect America Fund helps underwrite the build-out of voice and broadband capacity in rural areas, allowing eligible carriers who serve them to recover some of their costs from the federal Universal Service Fund. This requires documentation and verification of the locations to be served, including latitude and longitude.

Service Objects’ HUBB-compliant geolocation data can uncover more eligible locations and multi-unit sites at a fraction of the cost of physical surveys, and is guaranteed to be accepted by the FCC. Previous customers have reported discovering 20-50% more eligible locations using our capabilities, including getting funding for multiple units at a single location. To learn more about our capabilities to support Connect America, visit this page.

Here is a closing thought. As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, few people get excited about compliance efforts. But we do! And we think that you should too. Why? Because many of these regulatory efforts are hallmarks of a new era in marketing, away from interruptive marketing and towards a new era of authentic customer engagement. We feel that organizations who take the lead in this direction will not only avoid non-compliance penalties, but succeed much better in the marketplace of the 21st century. It is an exciting time full of opportunity – and we can help you get there.

The Role of Data Quality in GDPR

If you do business with clients in the European Union, you have probably heard of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that takes effect in Spring 2018. This new EU regulation ushers in strict new requirements for safeguarding the security and privacy of personal data, along with requiring active opt-in permission and ease of changing this permission.

Most articles you read about GDPR nowadays focus on the risks on non-compliance, and penalties are indeed stiff: up to €20 million or 4 percent of annual turnover. However, we recently hosted a webinar at Service Objects with two experts on GDPR, and they had a refreshing perspective on the issue – in their view, regulators are in fact helping your business by fundamentally improving your relationship with your customers. As presenter Tom Redman put it, “Regulators are people (and customers) too!”

Dr. Redman, known as the Data Doc, is the author of three books on data quality as well as the founder of Data Quality Solution, and the former head of AT&T’s Data Quality Lab. He was joined on our webinar by Daragh O’Brien, founder and CEO of Castlebridge, an information strategy, governance, and privacy consultancy based in Ireland. Together they made a case that GDPR is, in a sense, a healthy evolution across Europe’s different cultures and legal systems, taking a lead role in how we interact with our customers.

As Daragh put it, “(What) we’re currently calling data are simply a representation of something that exists in the real world who is a living breathing person with feelings, with emotions, with rights, and with aspirations and hopes, and how we handle their data has an impact on all of those things.” And Tom painted a picture of a world where proactive data quality management becomes a corporate imperative, undertaken to benefit an organization rather than simply avoid the wrath of a regulator.

At Service Objects, we like Tom and Daragh’s worldview a great deal. For our entire 15-plus year history, we have always preached the value of engineering data quality into your business processes, to reap benefits that range from cost savings and customer satisfaction all the way to a stronger brand in the marketplace. And seen through the lens of recent developments such as GDPR, we are part of a world that is rapidly moving away from interruptive marketing and towards customer engagement.

We would like to help you be part of this revolution as well. (And, in the process, help ensure your compliance with GDPR for your European clients.) There are several ways we can help:

1) View the on-demand replay of this recent webinar, at the following link: https://www.serviceobjects.com/resources/videos-tutorials/gdpr-webinar

2) Download our free white paper on GDPR compliance: https://www.serviceobjects.com/resources/articles-whitepapers/general-data-protection-regulation

3) Finally, contact us for a free one-on-one GDPR data quality assessment: https://www.serviceobjects.com/contact-us

In a very real sense, we too are trying to create a more interactive relationship with our own clients based on service and customer engagement. This is why we offer a rich variety of information, resources and personal connections, rather than simply tooting our horn and bugging you to purchase something. This way we all benefit, and close to 2500 existing customers agree with us. We feel it is time to welcome the brave new customer-focused world being ushered in by regulations such as GDPR, and for us to help you become part of it.

A New Role: The Marketing Technologist

Once upon a time, life was simple. There was marketing, and there was IT. The former did creative work to drive the product creation and sales process, and the latter kept the computers, software and networks running. In large organizations, the former had a Chief Marketing Officer and the latter had a Chief Information Officer. And if the two departments talked, it was usually about things like software licenses or password resets.

Fast forward to 2017. Marketing is now a heavily data-driven field, where success involves things like marketing automation platforms, CRMs, big data analytics, social media analysis, content personalization, and data governance. Technology and automation software now play key strategic roles in the marketing process. Which leads to a new buzz phrase that is now here to stay in the industry: marketing technology.

Content management firm Docurated defines marketing technology as “tools and platforms used by sales and marketing organizations to effectively complete their duties.” These marketing/sales tools and platforms are becoming increasingly complicated to deploy and administer while new ones are being introduced at an exponential rate. To manage these technologies, many organizations now have a formal leadership role, embedded within the marketing organization, to oversee its use of technology: the marketing technologist. According to marketing blogger Scott Brinker, over 60% of firms have now restructured their marketing and/or IT departments to better leverage marketing technology, or plan to do so over the next 12 months.

According to McKinsey, marketing technologists are much more than IT people who have been moved to a new office: “They’re passionate about re-imagining what marketing can do in a digital world. They help nontechnical marketers craft better campaigns, programs, and customer experiences that effectively leverage software and data … They’re hybrids, who speak both marketing and IT, and naturally see the connections between them.” Whatever their formal title, they are part of a closer integration between IT and marketing, often reaching all the way up to the C-level suite.

It is important to know that the marketing technologist has emerged because of larger trends in the software industry. People didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to create this role – it evolved in response to the growth of inexpensive, scalable, cloud-based tools such as Salesforce and Marketo, as well as other trends leveraging big data and social media. In less than a decade, the automated marketing environment has gone from the province of expensive enterprise solutions to becoming a competitive necessity used by almost everyone.

One of the key roles of a marketing technologist is managing the data quality of an organization’s information assets – and where possible, creating automated processes to ensure this data quality. This dovetails with a broader portfolio of responsibilities integrating component technologies that form the basis for an organization’s marketing automation strategy.

At Service Objects, we help marketing technologists automate their data quality and leverage the maximum value from their data assets. We do this with tools ranging from our flagship address validation capabilities, which clean and validate your contact data against continually updated USPS, Canada Post and international address databases, all the way to lead validation and lead enhancement tools that make sure all your contacts work hard for you. And we make it easy to automate these capabilities, using either our enterprise-grade APIs or custom-built cloud connectors for the most popular CRMs and marketing automation platforms.

Are you a newly-minted marketing technologist? Talk with us and see how we can help build your success!

What Role Does Data Quality Play in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

With the arrival of 2018, many businesses are realizing the deadline to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is looming in the not too distant future. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 80% of firms affected by the GDPR will not be able to comply with the regulation by the May 2018 deadline. GDPR has many different components that a business will need to meet to achieve compliance; one of which is making sure contact data is kept accurate and up-to-date.

Understanding the important role that data quality plays in complying with GDPR, Service Objects will host a webinar to provide information to those looking to get started. This live, informational webinar on the topic of “The Role of Data Quality in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),” will take place on January 24, 2018 at 9:00am.

The interactive event will feature data quality expert Tom Redman, President of Data Quality Solutions, who will provide an overview of the regulation recently enacted by the EU, and why US businesses need to pay attention. He will also discuss how engaging in data quality best practices not only makes it easier to achieve compliance, but also makes good business sense.

According to Geoff Grow, Founder and CEO of Service Objects, businesses can incur fines up to $20 million Euros or 4% of a company’s annual revenue for not complying with the GDPR. The recently enacted EU regulation requires that every effort is taken to keep contact data accurate and up-to-date. Service Objects’ data quality solutions can help businesses meet this requirement, as well as identify which contacts reside in the EU and therefore fall under the GDPR.

To register for this complimentary webinar, visit https://www.serviceobjects.com/gdpr-webinar.  All those who register will also receive a link to the recording after the event.

The 2018 European Data Protection Regulation – Is Your Organization Prepared?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The primary objectives of the GDPR are to give citizens and residents back control of their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.

According to research firm Gartner, Inc., this regulation will have a global impact when it goes into effect on May 25, 2018.  Gartner predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 50 percent of companies affected by the GDPR will not be in full compliance with its requirements.

To avoid being part of the 50 percent that may not be in compliance one year from now, organizations should start planning today. Gartner recommends organizations focus on five high-priority changes to help organizations to get up to speed:

    1. Determine Your Role Under the GDPR
      Any organization that decides on why and how personal data is processed is essentially a “data controller.” The GDPR applies therefore to not only businesses in the European Union, but also to all organizations outside the EU processing personal data for the offering of goods and services to the EU, or monitoring the behavior of data subjects within the EU.
    2. Appoint a Data Protection Officer
      Many organizations are required to appoint a data protection officer (DPO). This is especially important when the organization is a public body, is processing operations requiring regular and systematic monitoring, or has large-scale processing activities.
    3. Demonstrate Accountability in All Processing Activities
      Very few organizations have identified every single process where personal data is involved. Going forward, purpose limitation, data quality and data relevance should be decided on when starting a new processing activity as this will help to maintain compliance in future personal data processing activities. Organizations must demonstrate an accountable ground posture and transparency in all decisions regarding personal data processing activities. It is important to note that accountability under the GDPR requires proper data subject consent acquisition and registration. Prechecked boxes and implied consent will be largely in the past.
    4. Check Cross-Border Data Flows
      As of today, data transfers to any of the 28 EU member states, as well as 11 other countries, are still allowed, although the consequences of Brexit are still unknown. Outside of the EU, organizations processing personal data on EU residents should select the appropriate mechanism to ensure compliance with the GDPR.
    5. Prepare for Data Subjects Exercising Their Rights Data subjects have extended rights under the GDPR, including the right to be forgotten, to data portability and to be informed (e.g., in case of a data breach).

Having poor quality data has several impacts on an organization and could hinder your efforts to being in compliance. Visit Service Objects’ website to see how our global data quality solutions can help you ensure your contact data is as genuine, accurate and up-to-date as possible.

The Role of a Chief Data Officer

According to a recent article in Information Management, nearly two-thirds of CIOs want to hire Chief Data Officers (CDO) over the next year. Why is this dramatic transformation taking place, and what does it mean for you and your organization?

More than anything, the rise of the CDO recognizes the growing role of data as a strategic corporate asset. Decades ago, organizations were focused on automating specific functions within their individual silos. Later, enterprise-level computing like CRM and ERP helped them reap the benefits of data interoperability. And today, trends such as big data and data mining have brought the strategic value of data front and center.

This means that the need is greater than ever for a central, C-level resource who has both a policy-making and advocacy role for an organization’s data. This role generally encompasses data standards, data governance, and the oversight of data metrics. A CDO’s responsibilities can be as specific as naming conventions and standards for common data, and as broad as overseeing enterprise data management and business intelligence software. They are ultimately accountable for maximizing the ROI of an organization’s data assets.

A key part of this role is oversight of data quality. Bad data represents a tangible cost across the organization, including wasted marketing efforts, misdirected product shipments, reduced customer satisfaction, and fraud, tax and compliance issues, among other factors. More important, without a consistent infrastructure for data quality, the many potential sources of bad data can fall through the cracks without insight or accountability. It is an exact analogy to how quality assurance strategies have evolved for manufacturing, software or other areas.

A recent report from the Gartner Group underscored the uphill battle that data quality efforts still face in most organizations: while those surveyed believed that data quality issues were costing each of them US $9.7 million dollars annually on average, most are still seeking justification to address data quality as a priority. Moreover, Gartner concludes that many current efforts to remediate data quality simply encourage line-of-business staff to abandon their own data responsibilities. Their recommendations include making a business case for data quality, linking data quality and business metrics, and above all shifting the mindset of data quality practitioners from being “doers” to being facilitators.

This, in turn, is helping fuel the rise of the central CDO – a role that serves as both a policymaker and an evangelist. In the former role, their job is to create an infrastructure for data quality and deploy it across the entire organization. In the latter role, they must educate their organizations about the ROI of a consistent, measurable approach to data, as well as the real costs and competitive disadvantage of not having one – particularly as more and more organizations add formal C-level responsibility for data to their boardrooms.

Service Objects has long focused on this transition by creating interoperable tools that automate the process of contact data verification, for functions ranging from address and email validation to quantitative lead scoring. We help organizations make data quality a seamless part of their infrastructure, using API and web-based interfaces that tap into global databases of contact information. These efforts have quickly gained acceptance in the marketplace: last year alone, CIO Review named us as one of the 20 most promising API solution providers. And nowadays, in this new era of the Chief Data Officer, our goal as a solutions provider is to support their mission of overseeing data quality.

Data Governance and You

Data governance has become another trendy buzz-phrase among information technology professionals. Twenty years ago, it was a rarely heard term. Nowadays, there are professional societies, best practices, and annual professional conferences built around it. But what does it mean for you and your business?

According to Wikipedia, data governance “encompasses the people, processes, and information technology required to create a consistent and proper handling of an organization’s data across the business enterprise.” Properly framed, it involves data quality monitoring strategies, protocols for corrective action, and responsible stakeholders.

Put another way, data governance represents a recent framework for codifying something that has been important for businesses for many years – the quality of the data that drives their operations. This includes marketing leads, orders, customer information, and much more. It recognizes that bad data is not only a cost and service quality issue but something that should be understood and managed at a corporate level.

According to the Center for Innovative Technology, best practices for data governance start with organizational structure, from which specific policies, procedures, and metrics emerge. They recommend a formal data governance committee, reporting to executive management and overseeing the activities of working groups and specific data contributors. The Data Governance Institute’s Data Governance Framework describes this in terms of having a specified Data Governance Office operating between data stakeholders and the actual stewards of this data.

This eventually leads to specific data management tasks such as removing duplicates, validating and improving existing data with data quality tools, performing regular data quality maintenance, and tracking ROI. It has frankly been in the growth and development of such tools that the historical need for data quality has evolved into the profession of data governance. This, in turn, has helped improve data quality for marketing, sales, customer and other data – with immediate, tangible benefits in reducing errors and fraud, along with intangibles such as a strong service brand and satisfied customers.

Finally, here is a closing thought about data governance from the Data Governance Institute, on what they consider to be its most overlooked aspect: “Communication skills of those staff who sit at ground zero for data-related concerns and decisions. They need to be able to articulate many stakeholders’ needs and concerns and to describe them in many vehicles and mediums.” We agree. Policies are important, and tools are important. But at the end of the day, good communication among the stakeholders who work with your actual data is the glue that holds your data quality together.