Consumer data responsibility lies with head of IT, say third of marketers

With consumer data now considered the fundamental bedrock of digital advertising and minds sharpened by the recent introduction of GDPR, you’d think marketers would have a firm grasp on where responsibility for it sits within their organisations. Wouldn’t you?

In fact, while the majority of marketers consider data use a “very important” aspect of business growth, there seems to be an ongoing conflict when it comes to who should be in charge of it.

A study by the global association for the insights and data industry ESOMAR took 300 managers and directors working in marketing, advertising and market research & IT across US, Europe, and Asia, in efforts to understand who owns the data in modern organisations, how it’s being used, and how protected it is.

The vast majority of marketers - 77% in the UK and 93% in the US - saw data as “very important” to the growth of their business, while two-thirds of managers and directors said it was critical they analyse “as much as possible”, in order to find and gain a competitive advantage.

When it comes to where responsibility lies, however, a third of managers stated that it falls under head of IT’s watch, as opposed to say, the head of insights or research, while 40% identified the head of IT as the person authorised to select the tech platforms used to collect data.  

While the results vary between market and company size - the head of IT is more likely to be cited as responsible in the US and India than the UK, for example, while it also becomes more likely the larger the company - the results reveal a potential tension between system requirements and information needs.

The significance becomes clear when paired with the findings that three-quarters of all companies say the person who manages the data also has complete authority over the budget for data systems within their organisations, raising a question over whether the head of IT is aware of ethical data obligations that have traditionally been at the core of marketing and insights teams.

Perhaps more alarmingly, the study also found that over two-thirds (68%), felt that once data had been collected it belonged to the company, highlighting a clear lack of understanding on a pretty basic GDPR law, that the consumer owns their data.

There has, however, been a positive shift in attitudes when it comes to ‘quality over quantity’, with 80% of marketers agreeing that understanding the ‘why’ behind consumer data is more important than collecting large volumes of it, while 81% said it was vital to combine data from multiple sources to draw meaningful conclusions from it.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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