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Immaculate Data Governance in Digital Ecosystems

Sabin Mindrut

Immaculate Data Governance in Digital Ecosystems

In short, data governance is the formulation of policies meant to optimize, secure and leverage information, by aligning objectives between multiple functions. Besides understanding what data governance is, we have to acknowledge why it’s essential.

A company’s size, its database size, and specific digital marketing strategy are all variables that factor into touchpoint governance design.

Considering governance rules, they don’t have to be rigid, nor follow the same rules across all campaigns. As each campaign differs, so should the rules.

But first, let’s start with a quick change in perspectives, and think about digital governance as an enabler of growth rather than as a constraint. Here’s a great analogy that can quickly help you make this switch of mindsets:

“People think brakes are to make a car slow down when, in fact, the purpose of brakes is that they enable cars to go fast. The same is true with organizational ethics. If you have those in place, the organization can move faster, because you are confident in the mechanisms that will keep you from crashing if you run into something unexpected.”

— Greg Baxter, Chief Digital Officer, MetLife

Digital governance acts as the brakes of the car, enabling your company to proceed faster on the path to digital maturity. It is crucial to consider and identify all the needs from the beginning, instead of waiting until trouble arrives.

In any company’s digital marketing ecosystem, we can build governance around 4 focus pillars:

1. Data Privacy

Eloqua’s security controls and practices are designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer data at the highest possible standard.

Under various applicable laws and regulations, individuals may have data subject rights enabling them to opt-out of third party sharing or selling, delete or remove, or request to access and receive a copy of their personal information.

If your business is in Europe, though, or has customers located there (maybe even passing through the EU), your data collection practices require GDPR compliance.

The General Data Protection Regulation was explicitly designed to give people control over data collected and used. It binds organizations to strict rules about the use and security of personal information collected from people.

We can define data privacy as the authorized processing of personally identifiable data according to fair principles (Fair Information Protection Principles, FIPPS).

  • Is that processing moral (cross-enterprise)?
  • Is that processing ethical (cross-culture)?
  • Is that processing legal (cross-jurisdiction)?

Ensuring that all components of your digital ecosystem and all digital capabilities are well-governed is crucial to attaining data privacy. Doing so is quickly feasible by answering these questions above.

2. Data security

Another crucial ingredient to data governance, as we like to call it, is data security. It encompasses multi-level controls for preventing unwanted access to data.

Ultimately, the pursuit of “quick wins” should not come at the expense of data security. Data is never a 0-sum game. It’s essential to protect it, guard it, and treat it ethically. Still, it’s often said there are 2 types of companies:

  • ones that have been breached
  • ones that don’t know they’ve been breached yet.

A data subject can rapidly lose trust in an organization. One of the most significant impacts of a data breach comes from the loss of customer trust.

With data breaches continuing to topple both big and small names like dominoes, companies across all sectors are desperate to tighten the security around their data – and those that aren’t are almost certain to pay the price.

Over-collection, over-processing, and over-observation of data can very quickly create security fragility. By always making sure that you’re aware of who touches what and where you’ll be able to avoid unwanted or unknown vulnerabilities and stay on top of your data security.

Here are some standard controls we’re considering:

  • Set up clear policies and procedures covering data use and security.
  • Use encryption to protect sensitive information
    • For data in rest – data stored for later use on a hard drive, USB device, magnetic tape, cloud service, or other data storage environment
    • For data in motion – data sent over a network between two systems
  • Use access controls on stored data

We cover this matter in great detail in another blog post. Check it out to explore more insights on data privacy and other privacy workflow management challenges here.

3. Data management

Data tells a story. It is vital to preserving that storyline, to organize it in a trustworthy manner, enabling your company to use this critical information in the scope of making sound business decisions.

Eloqua features a data management maturity model (0 No Maturity, 1 Initial, 2 Managed, 3 Standardized, 4 Advanced, 5 Optimized) which consists of six categories of processes and can be used to measure and track progress.

One of these categories is Data Management, and it defines the following factors:

  • Regular backups;
  • Appropriate access;
  • Specific roles;
  • Regular audits;
  • Standards applied;
  • Consequences for non-compliance.

Mature organizations have the right people, tools, and processes in place, backed up by verifiable results.

Fortunately, what can be measured can also be improved.

To check out for yourself how we redesigned one of our client’s Eloqua Privacy Workflows in the scope of flawlessly managing customers’ data, check out our customer success story. Dive into the detailed 2-month journey of setting up an error-free data privacy flow.

However, misusing or altogether disregarding standardized approaches for data management is another issue. With impacts on privacy management, the challenge starts from Eloqua platform administration, and it has the most abundant negative consequences on your marketing automation activities’ well-being.

Faulty platform governance often leads to increased configuration times, loss of data, and higher risk exposures.

Yet, these common threats can be avoided by incorporating data normalization and standardization practices into your operations. Want to know more? Read on to explore four ways of incorporating standardized platform use approaches or check out more insights on data normalization approaches.

4. Ethical standards

Undoubtedly, it would be best if you made ethical considerations fundamental to your digital ecosystem design. Each of the 3 governance areas above can easily crumble in the absence of exercised ethical standards.

There are several specific ethical theories that can be used in the process, like utilitarianism, deontology, or contractarianism. Unfortunately, while experts are still working on these, we’ll need something much simpler.

So rather than attempting to build guardrails using complex ethical theories, let’s use something like the Hippocratic Oath. Let’s build a Data Oath. Here’s an example from the Ethics and Law in Data Analytics course:

“I, a data practitioner, will promote the well-being of others and myself while striving to do no harm with data through:

Professional application of analytical techniques;

Humility in analytic claims;

Anticipation of legal and regulatory scenarios;

Transparency in computation and documentation;

Fidelity to this oath beyond the bottom line.”

And this was just the start of our conversation on Governance in Digital Ecosystems, with plenty more to come.

Final thoughts

Reaching an optimal level of governance in the digital ecosystem can be a substantial change. Give yourself the necessary time to achieve it, and make sure you keep these concepts in mind during the entire process:

  • Grant Transparency
  • Protect the Story
  • Avoid Unwanted & Unknown Vulnerabilities
  • Keep Data Away from the Wrong Hands

It is a key responsibility to store all private data securely while still leveraging its value in marketing campaigns. It might be a tall order, but that is the reality in today’s intrusive online world.

With increasingly better data intelligence tools, companies process and maintain large amounts of data from their customers. Stricter rules must be implemented against cybersecurity threats.

Between emerging technologies and ever-changing risks, proliferating devices, or compliance with a long list of regulations – all hindered by the risk of human error – privacy management is overwhelming for even the more experienced.

Could you benefit from Eloqua Privacy Management expert assistance in auditing your Data Privacy Flow? Take advantage of our trusted Eloqua services and schedule a complementary platform audit.

Sabin Mindrut

Driving digital innovation through Marketing Automation (Eloqua, Marketo, SFMC, HubSpot) and connected capabilities.

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