Big Data Reform SA took place in March this year. Marketing trends were presented and discussions around big data, best practice and compliance took place. Everlytic had a team of marketers at the event. We thought we’d share our thoughts for anyone who may have missed the conference and would like to know what the big deal is around POPI.

Data Scientists definitely trended, as far as speakers go. They spoke about complex algorithms, metric agility and customer clusters for acquisition and conversion. Yip, pretty hectic stuff to digest. There were a lot of blank stares in the audience and one awkward moment when a scientist cracked a joke and the only other people to find it funny were the other 2 data scientists in the room.

It really comes down to:

Having a singular view of clients (with the right customer info)
Figuring out where the drop off point for clients are and why they’re dropping off
Customer segmentation (what works for one client cluster may not work for another)

Data mining and privacy:

where do marketers need to draw the line? Think about all the ways customers can be tracked. Some information collected is anonymous and de-identified, like how much traffic a store generates using an infared foot counter to track in store traffic. Personalised data is specific information tied to an identifiable customer, such as location tracking that reveals exactly how often you visit that store. When marketers know this, they can target you with specials each time you walk past the store front. With smartphone penetration on the up and up, so is the ability to track customers and mine data.

Did you know when you access the free Wi-Fi network connection in a restaurant, retailer or mall; you’re inadvertently allowing yourself to be tracked? The same applies to using your Facebook, Google + and Twitter profiles to access or share information. Sharing pages, articles and adverts you like using apps paints a pretty neat picture of who you are. Companies can identify you, your age, gender, location, who your favourite friends are, what your social activity is like, what brand affinities you have and what hobbies you’re interested in, who your influencers are and who you influence on social networks.

With social authentication, retailers and brands can tailor and segment the marketing material you receive. There’s nothing wrong with personalised marketing that targets customers better, because you know your clients better, based on the information you’ve collected. Especially if you do it correctly and market to clients with real benefits involved.

The thing is, with POPI looming, whatever information you collect is great. You just can’t use it without the permission of the person it belongs to.

It really comes down to:

What’s best for business and customers should always be on the right side of the law
POPI isn’t going to impinge on tracking customer behaviour
POPI requires permission from customers to market to them based on their information
Anonymous data is OK (it’s de-identified), but don’t collect info if you don’t have a use for it
Data must be deleted if it’s not going to be used

This brings us to best practice around POPI and what marketers need to consider:

Companies will need a data management policy in preparation for POPI
The policy must detail how data is collected, retained, restricted and destroyed
Data can’t be stored indefinitely, there needs to be a maximum data retention period
Companies will need back-to-back indemnities for the safety and security of data processes

POPI has not yet commenced but when it does, we predict Information Officers will trend just as much as Data Scientists currently do.