View from the Silent Retreat in Bali with Campaign Against Living Miserable (CALM) logo

By Felicity ‘Flick’ Ward, Credit Controller at REaD Group

It seemed like such a good idea at the time – all I have to do is not speak for 6 days… If Julia Roberts can do it in “Eat, Pray, Love” then it should be no problem for me. Many were incredulous that I would be able to stay quiet for so long – “YOU, not speak for 6 days?”, “Flick, you must be joking”, “You’ll NEVER manage that” – I could go on.

Not to be deterred, and encouraged that some of my disbelieving friends and colleagues had pledged sponsorship, I booked the Bali Silent Retreat bang in the middle of Ubud – no getting away then!

As my departure date approached, I started to have serious doubts (and borderline panic) but off I went.

It turned out to be an absolutely amazing experience – bucket list stuff! I loved the tranquillity, the place was stunning and having no contact with the outside world at a time of intense political turmoil was so welcome.

My daily routine consisted of:

5am Ginger Tea

6 – 7am Meditation

7-8.30 am Yoga

9.30 am BREAKFAST

Free to explore, eat lunch etc. until

2pm – 3.30pm Yoga

3.30pm – 4.30pm Meditation

4.30 – 6pm DINNER

Then early to bed.

My daughter had bought me Eat, Pray, Love to read which I started on the morning I arrived and finished an hour before I left – I hadn’t appreciated the inscription until I opened it – “Dear Mummy – one family’s quest for silence”. It was the perfect book to read…

I tried all sorts of things I had never experienced and to be honest, never thought I would – labyrinth walking meditation, crystal meditation, water meditation (freezing!!) and all sorts of yoga positions I never thought were possible!

I had time to really get to know myself, explore my innermost thoughts and heal from the frantic life we all seem to lead and all of the pressures we put upon ourselves – such as the expectation of instant (and constant) communication.  No mobile – so no Whats App, no email, no text and NO BREXIT!

I fell in love with Mount Batur which I could see from my terrace and decided to have a go at painting it (no judgement please, I know I’m no Monet!).

I amazed myself at my ability to keep absolute silence – I didn’t even talk to myself (something I swear I do on a regular basis!).

This really was an unforgettable experience and one which was made even more poignant as two days after I left the Retreat I received news of a dear friend of the family, aged 27, who had attempted suicide but had miraculously survived.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, and the main reason I wanted to undertake this self-imposed silence (besides raising as much as possible for CALM and setting a personal challenge for myself) was because mental health is an issue that people often struggle to talk about and there are so many who suffer in silence.

Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored me and for everyone that understandably doubted my ability to pull this off, I am so delighted I proved them wrong.

It is still not too late to sponsor me so please, please, dig deep for this truly amazing charity: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/REaD-Group2

'GDPR 12 Months on' next to stopwatch

By Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO at REaD Group

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since GDPR’s implementation, but things have calmed down considerably in the interim and overall, we are in a much better place. In the last 12 months consumers have become more informed about what their data is used for and equally businesses are paying more attention to the legitimacy of their data and its use and applications. Importantly, companies have started to be much more considerate of the consumer perspective – understanding that a simple customer complaint could lead to financial penalties and reputational damage.

Clarity from confusion

As the GDPR is a principles-based regulation, there has been a considerable amount of confusion in the market as there are some aspects that have no fixed parameters. However, grey areas such as the reasonable amount of time that data should be retained are starting to reach consensus, resulting in self-imposed best practice being seen in the industry. We will undoubtedly see some of these currently accepted norms change in the future as a result of newly published guidance and based on the outcome of audits.

It is becoming normal for our clients to request documentation to evidence the legal right to use the data we provide – and in a transparent and easy to understand format. This will ultimately ensure that data collectors who are fast and loose with their due diligence are removed from the market, which is good for consumers and for the data industry.

Not just about consent…

Reassuringly, people have begun to realise that there is more to the GDPR than consent, or more generally ensuring that you have an appropriate legal base for processing data. Other key requirements, such as the misuse and security of data as well as data accuracy, are starting to take the spotlight. Collecting data in a legal manner is not enough – it must also be retained legally. Data must be respected as a valuable asset, and as it decays so rapidly it must be kept up to date.

As an industry, data quality is something we have always wanted to be recognised at board level – and GDPR has made this a reality.

Standing out from the crowd

It’s encouraging to see that companies and brands are really understanding the importance of giving consumers choice. Companies must now try and appeal to an increasingly discerning and aware audience, which means that finding ways to distinguish from competitors has never been more important.

Consumer communications have changed almost beyond recognition in the last decade (it’s astounding that the law hadn’t been updated since the DPA in 1998!). Similarly, PECR is also more than 10 years out of date and falls short of answering the complex legislative challenges encountered in today’s marketplace. GDPR was, for this reason, desperately needed.

Data elevated to board level

With an increasing number of businesses investing in DPO’s and CDO’s, data and governance is finally being raised to board level. Shortly after GDPR was introduced, many well-known brands ceased using data altogether for fear of doing the wrong thing. The majority have now resumed, but this has meant that scrutiny and assurances over the provenance of data have become even more vital.

Only the beginning

It’s important to realise that GDPR is only the beginning – the ePrivacy regulation (ePR), expected to come into force next year, will address much needed change in digital communications legislation. In tandem the two regulations should ensure that consumers are more informed and trusting of how companies are using their data, as well as ensuring that businesses are using data responsibly.

We can all take heart in the fact that, one year on, GDPR is no longer being seen as an inconvenience or a box to tick, but as an opportunity and a change for the better!

DataIQ Awards logo with fireworks in the background

REaD Group are delighted to have been shortlisted in three categories in the DataIQ Awards 2019:

  • Best place to work in data 
  • Best use of data in a marketing programme with Titan Travel
  • Transformation with data with Marie Curie

The awards recognise the skills, commitment and capabilities of individuals, teams, organisations and solutions of the top performers in the data industry. Aligned to the value-driving champions and the challenges they meet, judged by the top tier of practitioners.

https://www.dataiq.co.uk/events/events/dataiq-awards-2019?tab=shortlist

We’re looking forward to awards night on 10th July – see you there!

a pair of scales weighing 'opportunity' and 'cost'

By Chris Turner, Head of REaDConnect at REaD Group

We can all attest to being bombarded with articles and advice on that overly (and at times incorrectly) discussed data protection regulation – to the point where it has almost taken on a Voldemort-like status. The mere mention of it might inadvertently summon the ICO. However, GDPR has, from its inception, presented a change for the better and a huge opportunity for businesses.

It’s important to remember that the legislation wasn’t primarily designed for organisations; it was designed with the consumer in mind and to champion their interests. Nevertheless, we can’t forget the consequences of failing to adhere.

Prior to GDPR’s implementation the primary focus for data quality and data cleansing centred around wasted mail being sent to people who wouldn’t receive it. Over a 6-year period from 2005-2011 Royal Mail had over 158 million undeliverable items of mail (it would be interesting to know what this figure is now!). It’s easy to understand how this can be the case given that, every year:

  • over six million people move home
  • more than 600,000 people die
  • at least 500,000 addresses change for reasons such as postcode boundary updates

Data cleansing has too often been seen as a cumbersome expense, however, in a post-GDPR world we should be viewing it as an opportunity. It’s not just about the money – at a time when consumers are increasingly conscious of their impact on the planet, being seen to be wasteful in terms of thousands of undelivered mailpacks bound with single-use plastic is sure to cause reputational damage.

And the distress caused by mailing the deceased has the potential to be even more damaging to a brand. Consider the social fallout for a major bank trying to promote a re-mortgage offer to a couple who are no longer together… and now imagine the reason they are not together is that the husband is now a widower with three children.

If we consider this scenario from another angle: Imagine a major bank sending a re-mortgage offer to a widower with three children promoting its ability to support families with ease of the switch process, payment breaks, vouchers for a major high street toy store and a donation to a charity of their choice. So really – is data quality an opportunity or a cost?

Many organisations feel it’s enough to have robust processes for dealing with complainants and returned mail by removing these records from their database. However, most people simply bin incorrect mailings rather than making the effort to return them. Brands need to ensure their data is clean and accurate before contact is made because, by the time a complaint or goneaway is received, it’s already too late: money has been wasted and damage done.

Data cleansing has always been a relatively simple process but has traditionally relied on batch processes and manual interaction. Essentially, prior to an organisation contacting their customers with an offer or promotion they will provide this data to a 3rd party who process against industry leading suppression files like GAS and TBR. Data is returned with incorrect records flagged or removed and the contact continues.

In the age of technology, it seems strange that we are still reliant on people to run these processes. Why do we not simply schedule tasks and pat ourselves on the back? Part of the reason for this is the pure size of data assets (GAS contains over 98 million names and addresses) and complexity of data matching algorithms.

Recently Royal Mail commissioned a report into Dynamic Customer Data in a Digital World which for me hit the nail on the head. It’s time to change the conversation.

Are Data Quality and Data Cleansing an opportunity or a cost?

Contact us today about our market leading data cleaning products