Data Collaboration is a Competitive Necessity

graphic image of hand shake made of data points

By Scott Howe, CEO, LiveRamp

Imagine you owned one of the most successful theme parks in the world. Over the course of many years of operation, you have developed a vast network of partners that provide various services for your visitors—from the ticketing system, to transportation within the park, to food and beverage, security and mobile applications. In today’s economy, most large enterprises have developed similarly vast networks, taking advantage of the efficiencies of strong partner ecosystems that provide expertise and innovation.

Now, imagine walking through your theme park, taking all of your partners through the turnstiles and discussing every point of interaction a visitor could have in the theme park. What information, if known, could make each a better experience? How can we learn what visitors actually prefer, anticipate their needs, and exceed their expectations?

You don’t need to be a theme park operator to understand that collaborating with partners to make slight improvements at each point of customer interaction, reimagining the end-to-end experience, can be transformational for both the visitor and the brand. This is why so many organizations today are embracing digital transformation, and why so many are looking for data collaboration solutions that make it safe and easy for them to take a closer look at and optimize their own customer journeys.

The stakes are extraordinarily high. While some organizations have deep data on their individual customers, few have the breadth to compete effectively without collaboration. Leveraging your best data along with another company’s best data has become a competitive necessity, giving you a breadth and depth of insight you may lack.

As always, privacy must be top of mind when managing consumer data. People want control and visibility, regardless of where they are in the world or the consumer regulations in their country. Companies everywhere must be transparent and have an ongoing conversation with their customers about what data they want to collect, why, and how it’s going to be used. They should also use better technology that offers more controls and safety features. Everything possible must be done to ensure customers are comfortable with the collection and usage and feel respected by the brands that serve them. Only then does connecting and collaborating with data become possible. The customer must always come first.

With these conditions finally in place, the possibilities are truly transformational for everyone, across industries. When retail organizations collaborate with CPGs, they deliver better shopping experiences while strengthening visibility into share of wallet and customer loyalty. When publishers collaborate with advertisers, consumers get higher quality and more relevant content. Travel companies—hotels, airlines, car rental companies and more—can deliver better and more seamless vacations to travelers everywhere.

Extending beyond purely commercial examples, consider that we’ve each provided our individual health information to a hundred different places—to our gyms, with our general practitioners, and our insurance companies. If healthcare providers can safely connect those destinations, collaborating up and down the value chain, they can ultimately help people live healthier, longer lives.

So, what comes first, the experiences or data? Companies should always look at the experiences first, and then evaluate what data can be used at the margins to improve each key customer interaction and deliver a better customer outcome. Only then can you begin to go down the road to ask where the right data can be found and who you should partner with to deliver a better experience. If you try to boil the ocean and attempt to infer what you can learn from the data you have, it will take you in a million directions, and probably none of them would be profitable. Never start with the data, but with the business processes.

This is the common denominator for successful companies. Amazon, Google, and Meta all harness the value of their data to change their processes for the better. The sum total of all these incremental changes is astonishing. By taking a page from these leaders, every major company can deliver incredible profitability and stakeholder value, replicate what they are doing and out-innovate the competition. Start with what customers value about your brand—improve on that and you’ll be off to a really great start.

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