Chief Data Officer, meet Generation Z


As with every new generation, “Gen Z” will profoundly affect not only the world, but how companies must do business. Chief Data Officers, in particular, will want to take note of this new generation as they begin to grow up, because many of their attitudes and behavior toward data are shifting from that of previous generations. Those that prepare for Gen Z early and build a relationship with them based on good data practices may find themselves in optimal position as this new group’s influence and purchasing power increases.

A crisis of trust

Currently, it appears that companies are experiencing a crisis of trust with Gen Zers. Even when asked what information they would be comfortable sharing with their favorite brand, many were reluctant to provide valuable pieces of information. Purchase history ranked the highest with 62% of Gen Zers willing to share; but online history, location, and personal life information seemed to be much more closely guarded with only 28, 27, and 21 percent of respondents indicating a willingness to share respectively. Perhaps even more shockingly, only 18% of respondents were willing to share payment information. Essentially, this means that various pieces of personal data – the lifeblood of efforts to individualize and improve consumer experiences – may be largely unavailable unless something changes.

Respecting Gen Z’s needs

With that being said, Chief Data Officers are in a prime position to help organizations win the trust of Gen Z. When asked what was most likely to make them feel better about sharing personal information with brands, respondents selected a handful of data-related improvements. These included clear terms and conditions for information usage (43%), clear explanations of data collection and use (39%), and the ability to change their mind and stop sharing information (30%). In other words, Gen Zers want to be aware of and in control of how their data is used. It should be noted that these preferences are similar to the guidelines set forth in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect next year.

Steps CDOs can take

To prepare for this upcoming generation that already wields considerable ability to influence purchase decisions, CDOs can take a few proactive steps. Foremost, it is a good idea to better understand what personal data you already have and how it is used. Data Integration and Governance solutions can help in this regard particularly when it comes to data lineage concerns. Information Lifecycle Governance is also handy to defensibly dispose of unneeded data and provide insight into unstructured data. Once there is a good understanding of the personal data and how it is used within the organization, it’ll be easier to transparently communicate that type of information to the customer, particularly Generation Zers.

Once trust is established through transparency, and Generation Zers are more comfortable sharing personal data with you, it is then important to use that information in a way that clearly improves their experience. Using advanced analytics solutions, you can discover deep insights, predict their needs, and take action in real time. All of this combined has the potential to greatly enhance a company’s ability to deliver exactly what a member of Generation Z wants and keep them coming back to experience the attentive and anticipatory service again.

The time to start thinking about Gen Z is now, and the CDO has the power to influence them! By recognizing their attitudes toward data and addressing their needs with the proactive use of governance and analytics technologies, CDOs may be able to secure their trust and continued patronage. So, make sure you don’t let this opportunity slip away.

For more helpful guidance for Chief Data Officers, visit the CDO Look Book.

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