At the recently concluded ‘Date with data’ summit, a wide range of topics pertaining to data were discussed and debated upon. Right from data privacy issues to looking at data in the right context, everything came under the scanner.
While, much of the day went by in discussing the merits of data and how it can help solve business problems, CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP, believes that the one point that was paramount is realising that data in its pure form is meaningless.
“I have seen examples where a lot of data is thrown at a particular problem but none of it created a solution. Data is like raw material; what you do with data is more important,” said Srinivas.
Srinivas is also of the view that the discussion on data privacy couldn’t have come at a more opportune time in India.
“For us in India, the draft bill on data privacy has come at a good time because we are still at the early stages of leveraging data for business growth in a scaled-up and a structured way,” he added.
Here, Srinivas speaks to BestMediaInfo.com about the importance of seeing data in the right context, how GDPR has impacted businesses across the globe and what are WPP’s plans when it comes to leveraging data to come up with business soultions.
This was the first time that WPP did something like 'Date with Data'. Why did you zero in on India for the summit? What do you intend to achieve through such summits on data?
At WPP, we are driving an agenda of collaboration, whether it be within our companies or across our companies. We have events and platforms where our companies, clients and industry partners come together to discuss trends and issues that matter to marketing; such as WPP’s Stream and WPP’s BrandZ Most Valuable Indian Brands. ‘Date with Data’ is yet another initiative that was born out of this kind of collaboration. We believe that the time has come for us in India to create this platform and discuss and debate issues and opportunities around data. First of all, data is a very critical component, if not the most critical component in helping drive overall strategy for businesses. Secondly, we are living in an age where data privacy has become an important point to debate and discuss. Thirdly, data is also something that can enhance and help the creative process as well. We wanted to ponder upon these points through this data summit and also to drive home the point that data should not come at the cost of creativity but should rather enhance it.
Global giants like Facebook are facing heat over data privacy infringement. While, data is being hailed there is also a flip side to it. How can this be balanced out?
When it comes to data, we have four guidelines that we put across to our clients and our people. First and foremost, one needs to respect data privacy laws and therefore the understanding of those laws is very important. Secondly, with data, there is the disadvantage of people getting into too much granularity and over-optimising the data and missing the bigger picture. As such, the second guideline that we put across is that data has to be seen in the right context. The third point that we tend to highlight is that creativity and innovation are really very important in ultimately driving success for businesses. Data cannot work against them and in fact, has to supplement or enhance creativity and innovation. As long as you have these guidelines and they are clearly put out and stated up front, one can work towards how best to harness available data and create value for clients. Last but not least, data in its pure form data has no value. It is like a raw material; what you do with data is more important. What sort of insights are you getting from it, how are you applying it to businesses and so on. I have seen examples where a lot of data is thrown at a particular problem but none of it created a solution. So, one needs to pick up relevant pieces of data, dig deep and get the right kind of insights to be able to solve problems.
How has GDPR impacted you?
GDPR’s ramifications can be felt all across the globe. As a group, we are pretty much on top of these developments and have been advising our clients on how to operate in this new climate. For us in India, the draft bill on data privacy has come at a good time because we are still at the early stages of leveraging data for business growth in a scaled-up and a structured way. In Europe, by the time GDPR came in, a lot of businesses were already leveraging a lot of data so they had to take a step back and re-engineer their entire process. It was almost like a Y2K moment for them. But in India, it has come at a rather early stage. So, as long as we are aware and make efforts to build this thinking into our approaches and processes, we shouldn’t have too many issues.
What are your expectations from the draft bill on data privacy tabled in India?
Directionally, I think it is pretty much in line with our thinking. We feel very positive about what is going to come out of this at the end of the day.
What are your future plans for the WPP in India in terms of data and data usage?
All our teams are completely networked internally between all our WPP companies and our recent ‘Date with Data’ summit is testimony to that. When it comes to leveraging data and analytics, we have expertise and data sitting across various agencies of WPP which we are working to extract and bring together, which enables us to be ahead of the curve. There is a lot of action that we have taken at a company level and specifically with clients, in terms of helping them shape their data vision and data journey going forward.