Organisations will be facing new data challenges with the imminent introduction of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI).
Under its law, companies have to obtain explicit consent from individuals before any data can be used or stored. Microsoft Gold certified partner, IS Partners, believes this marks a need for organisations to define a clear information strategy for improved data protection and compliance.
David Ives, General Manager at Microsoft Gold certified partner, IS Partners, says companies are going to have to tighten the reins on many customer-facing initiatives, and an information strategy will need to incorporate solutions that allow you to accurately analyse customer data.
“The key challenge for organisations will be to identify exactly what customer information they hold. Data is typically fragmented and spread across many lines of business systems. As a result, no one in the organisation knows exactly what information is held on each customer and also have no way of knowing whether or not they will be in breach of the regulations,” he says.
While the new regulations heed consumer privacy, they also give organisations greater scope to get in touch with their customers and gain insight into their motivations and beliefs, isolating the most suitable method of interacting with them.
“Proof of where the information was obtained and the consent for its use will have to be accessible company-wide,” says Ives. “It will become critical to have these customer permissions reflected in all customer records.”
In light of ongoing recession concerns, budget constraints may further limit funding for costly new IT systems. There will also be a requirement to protect any existing IT investments.
“In terms of privacy regulations, VisionWare, for example, offers a solution set that enables organisations to create and maintain a complete, accurate and real-time view of customer information, ensuring requests can be dealt with at any point of contact. Customer data relevant to permissions will also be accessible and accurate at all departmental levels,” Ives says.
IS Partners is the exclusive distributor of the VisionWare range of data management solutions in Africa. The company believes that master data management solutions will become more commoditised over the next two years, driving costs down. An incremental approach to MDM also allows for cost savings and the ability to derive value from the solution immediately.
“A single customer record will translate into time savings and improving productivity. Better decisions also increase profitability and, in the case of POPI, will ultimately prevent the heavy fines that are being associated with non-compliance to the new regulations,” says Ives.
The risk for organisation faltering due to inaccurate information or as a result of human error, where users do not have access to a single true customer record, will not mitigate the penalties being associated with contravening POPI.
MultiView ensures increased levels of customer service and compliance through the ability to quickly and easily update all departmental systems with change of circumstance notifications, ensuring each department holds up-to-date information.
Service delivery can also be improved as a result of a better understanding of customer requirements, preferences and motivations. Data can also be explored and visualised across multiple systems.
“In light of POPI, the need to restrict customer communications comes to the fore. Communication will also have to become increasingly relevant and delivered in the most appropriate way to a particular individual for absolute compliance. An improved understanding of your customers can further lead to increased customer buy-in to sales and marketing initiatives,” Ives says. Cost efficiencies can also be obtained from reductions in 'avoidable' contact.
“A clearly defined data strategy will give organisations the ability to quickly and easily update all departmental systems with change of circumstance notifications, thus ensuring each department, and the company as a whole, is complying with the law,” he concludes.