Does it seem to you that every marketing workshop, webinar, lecture or speaker series you’ve attended lately has something to do with data?

If the topic isn’t “Big Data” or data governance, it’s data privacy and security, data management or data regulations. And yet, despite all of this conversation, the marketers and DMA board members I meet with tell me over and over that they still don’t know if they’re doing the right thing with their own data management practices.

You know that feeling, right? You might hear me speak at a conference about COPPA or “Do Not Track” bills making their way through Congress and state legislatures, and you think you’ve got a handle on the whole data-management thing. Then, you go back to the office to work on a big marketing project that involves merging millions of vendor and in-house data records.

And now the confusion sets in. Is this, you wonder, what Linda was talking about? You have to meet your business goals to keep your job, but are you running the risk of violating a law or opening yourself up to a lawsuit from privacy advocates? Are your data practices legal or skirting the law? Best practices or forbidden acts? And where do you go for answers that will help you put the legal and compliance aspects of data management and privacy into the context of your day-to-day job?

You won’t find answers in the usual collection of industry trade magazines and newsletters, and you’re certainly not going to be able to ask your competition, no matter how chummy you all are. Your corporate legal counsel? No offense to the lawyers (and I am one), but their motto is “When in doubt, say no.”

So, it’s all up to you. My personal challenge to you is to “lean in,” as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg would say, and become the in-house expert on data governance and compliance. Start with DMA’s own Institute for Marketing Data Governance and other tools that are among your benefits as a DMA member.

Stay tuned, because we have some big projects in the works that will make this quest even more accessible. Keep your eye on this blog, too, for more posts on this whole topic of responsible data management and stewardship, which is so essential to your success and DMA’s mission.

To make it even more actionable, I’ll post next with a checklist of how to connect the dots on compliance.

Got questions or thoughts? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

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