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Ep23: Brent Leary, Partner at CRM Essentials

"Can data security be any more important? Answer is, yes!"

Episode Summary

Brent takes data security seriously and understands the duty of care businesses must take if they want to keep their customers on side. In episode #23 of our Datavana Podcast, Brent Leary (Partner at CRM Essentials) talks about implications of data security. He highlights the fine line between tracking customer data to provide improved customer experiences, and being transparent with customers to increase brand trust. “It's really important for companies to be as open and as transparent about how they're leveraging the data, your customer's data."

Data is being generated faster and in more ways than ever before, and data is rapidly becoming companies’ most valuable assets. "Data comes from a variety of areas, becoming harder and harder to actually keep the data secure and safe." However, should businesses become more transparent with how they’re using and storing data while affording customers the choice to opt in or out? How can companies who are responsibly handling customer data use information to enhance the customer journey? “We want to use the data to create better experiences for you and give you the opportunity to opt in or not to opt in."

Brent and host John Kosturos also chat about AI and machine learning, analyzing the different types of data being generated and the future of data quality tools.

Ep23: Brent Leary, Partner at CRM Essentials
Name: Brent Leary
What he does: Partner
Company: CRM Essentials
Noteworthy:
  • Co-chair of CRM Evolution 2018
  • Regularly writes for CRM magazine and The Atlanta Tribune
  • Co hosts the podcasts The CRM Playaz and Watching Amazon.
Where to find Brent: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

The Growth Trajectory of Data Quality and Orchestration Tools.

"They’re going to be more and more important as time goes by. Because everything we do basically is creating data and anything you do digital is definitely doing that. And that just means more data to aggregate and analyze and find insights from. And it could come from devices, interactions, one-on-one interactions, aggregated interactions and it's just going to keep coming and coming, faster and faster from a variety of different things. It's going to be even rougher if we don't get a handle on it. And that's why I think this whole idea of data aggregation, data cleansing, data augmentation, and being able to find different pieces of the customer through the different interactions and channels; is very important. And it's going to only grow in importance. That means being able to deal with all this data, analyze it, make sure it's clean, make sure it's up to date, make sure it's accurate because that's all the things that fuels the AI and the machine learning that everybody's talking about. So that stuff is no good unless you have some good data to put into it."

Communicating Ethical Intent with Customers.

"Eventually what it's going to come down to is being upfront and transparent with your customers, your site visitors, or your prospects. Whoever it is you're communicating to, let them know exactly what you're doing with their data. In a lot of instances you tell folks upfront, ‘Hey, we want to leverage your data to create better experiences for you.’ I think they'll be okay with it because you're adding value, leveraging their data to add value to them. But I think what happens is when you're not open and transparent and they find out after the fact, they view you as not trying to create better services for them. They view you as looking just to find ways to benefit yourself. And that's where it goes off the rails."

Tracking Customer Data to Benefit the Entire Customer Journey.

"The traditional business model is where you would sell, let's say a car. Today with the rise of the subscription model you're not into a one and done car sale a year, instead you’re selling them a car and tracking how they use it to help them. Maybe get better insurance, or maybe to get better repair cycles out. This becomes important not only for tracking or aggregating data, but for potentially building a more meaningful relationship. And that comes with not just selling a product, but really goes to helping them leverage their journey with what they're trying to do beyond a single product. That's where data comes in. And that's where the opportunity to use that data to extend your relationship with them, but also to extend a relationship with other customers that may have similar usage patterns."

Opt In For Data Harvesting.

"It's all about value for me. Like personalized experiences, as long as it's something I value. I don't have a problem using a lot of these services because I go into it knowing there's a certain level of tracking. But I also don't want certain things to be tracked. I do like where Apple is going, because some people aren't aware of all the tracking, and I think it's really important for folks to understand. Or at least have the opportunity to understand how your data is being used. And so I think the iOS 14.5 update is the beginning of putting that into the consumer’s hands and giving them the option. It's about options. Giving somebody the opportunity to say, ‘I am’ or, ‘I’m not okay with that’. I think that's important. Being upfront saying, ‘We want to use the data to create better experiences for you in this manner, and then give you the opportunity to opt in or not to opt in."

Brent’s Data Journey.

"And my undergrad was accounting which is a whole other story, but there's a lot of data in that. And then the professional career I've always been involved with CRM at heart. The first couple of jobs I did were supporting pharmaceutical sales reps. You had to have a lot of data and they treated that data like gold because they’re highly regulated with all that stuff. So you started really digging in and understanding what kind of data is required. And how do you handle the importance of it from a sales perspective, you know, tracking territory and being able to run forecasts. And every little piece of data was just so critically important to that. Then once I got into the professional side of CRMs in my very first job, how data was treated, how it was used, and how it was leveraged to build relationships. That kind of kept me in the game right until this point."

Key Insights

  • Data Security. Data is being generated at a rate faster than any period in history. These diverse data streams only increase the difficulty around managing and securing it. "Data is coming from a variety of areas and so it becomes harder and harder to actually keep the data secure and actually to keep it safe." Using 3rd party data vendors only muddies the water in terms of tracking where the data is going. According to Brent’s studies, companies should be doing more to protect customers and make them aware of how their data is being utilized to improve brand trust and loyalty. "There is also the aspect of, 'What should we do to safeguard our customer data?' Even when we try to use these third party companies to find more customers like them."
  • The Value of Daily Data. The average person is becoming increasingly aware of how valuable the data they produce on a daily basis is. Customers are also aware of how companies are aiming to capture as much of that data as possible, and use it to further their business objectives. For companies to maintain a positive brand image, it’s their responsibility to preserve trust and take data security seriously by not misusing customer information. "You have products that track data, you gotta make sure you're staying on the good side of your customers before crossing over to the dark side. Because once you take a step over to that side and it becomes public, you're done."
  • Tracking Customer Data. According to Brent, investing in data solutions to track customers along the product journey should be the primary responsibility for executives. By tracking how customers use products, companies are better able to support them by aggregating data to inform insights that develop and expand upon meaningful relationships. "That comes with not just selling a product, but that really goes to helping them leverage their journey with what they're trying to do beyond a single product. That's where data comes in. And that's where the opportunity to use that data to extend your relationship with them."
  • Machine Learning and Intent Data. In the last few years AI and machine learning have become extremely advanced. Some of the world’s leading companies are looking to these new technologies as major investment opportunities. According to Brent, most CRM companies have included AI and machine learning as a foundational layer within their tech stacks. AI and machine learning requires a lot of high quality data to function, but its potential for pattern finding and understanding buyer intent is game changing. "It's almost endless the metadata that gets created by all the data that we have. And so, all of that is what we want from a kind of a CRM perspective. To try and have a better understanding of who we're talking to, what they need, and how badly they need it. But also to extend a relationship with other customers that may have similar usage patterns."

Top Quotes

[01:48] "Everything we do basically is creating data and anything you do digitally is definitely doing that. And that just means more data to aggregate and analyze and find insights from."

[03:49] "Data is coming from a variety of areas and so it becomes harder and harder to actually keep the data secure and actually to keep it safe."

[08:19] "It's really important for companies to be as open and as transparent about how they're leveraging the data, your customer's data."

[10:40] "Data is power. I mean, everybody talks about cash as King, but I think data is King at this point because data will turn into cash faster than cash can turn into data."

[21:00] "AI and machine learning I think is also driving this need for high quality data."

[22:13] "So I think AI data and AI just go hand in hand and particularly with CRM, because all of these interactions, like everything we do. If you listen to a podcast or if you do a podcast, I mean, just think about how much data is getting created from our conversation is being recorded."