Joseph Suriya
Oct 29, 2019

What does a data-protection officer do, and do you need one?

Tealium's APAC marketing director explains the DPO Competency Framework, which must be seen as a positive step forwards and a useful tool for companies looking to establish themselves as data leaders.

What does a data-protection officer do, and do you need one?

Singapore has rapidly developed into a technology hub that empowers marketers to expand their data limits to create the ultimate customer experience. Singapore provides some of the best opportunities for marketers to get creative and test their market to fine-tune their customer experience strategy. But as they set the stage for the rest of APAC, the spotlight is also on best data practices—that help fuel creativity—and the emergence of new guidelines such as the data protection officer (DPO) competency framework.

Marketers across the region are keenly aware of the importance of customer experience in the digital age. And while the majority claim it’s a top priority (73%), only a fifth have actually defined a proper customer experience strategy (23%).

Providing the best customer experience based on real-time insights is key to building long-term relationships with consumers, but conducting vast amounts of data is no mean feat. How can companies adopt the right technology, at the right pace, to best leverage customer insight while respecting privacy and regulation?

Empowerment of the DPO

As APAC continues along its trajectory towards digital transformation and heightened opportunities for creativity, Singapore’s security watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), reveals that while most Singaporean businesses acknowledge following data best practices could support business growth (72%), two-fifths are not confident their DPOs have the “knowledge and skillsets to mitigate risks and recover from data breaches” (39%).

As the spotlight hones in on the DPO assuming full responsibility for implementing appropriate data-protection procedures, their role will become more pivotal in bolstering the brand-consumer relationship. But to achieve an acceptable and consistent standard of compliance, there needs to be some form of guidance and regulation in place. As such, the PDPC recently launched a competency framework that is expected to benefit 500 DPOs of all seniorities across Singapore, within the first year alone.

A cornerstone for compliance

The pilot programme—fully known as the DPO Competency Framework and Training Roadmap—follows a long history of consent and transparency within APAC’s data landscape, and underpins the notion that the “role of DPOs is central within organisations and skilled DPOs are crucial to supporting the responsible use of data and to drive data innovation”.

Perhaps precipitated by the impact of overseas regulations such as the GDPR, the framework is intended to complement other initiatives across the region, such as the PDPC’s Trusted Data Sharing Framework launched in July 2019; the IMDA’s voluntary Data Protection Trustmark certification launched in March 2019; and APEC’s Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) updated in 2015.

By choosing to participate in the 12-month training programme, DPOs can focus on building a compliant yet creative customer experience strategy. There are nine competencies, which are applicable depending on the participant’s current job level, ranging from DP Executive through to Regional DPO. By completing these competencies—which are available at differing price rates, through various training providers—DPOs will work towards increased proficiency and enhanced capabilities they can apply when carrying out their data protection role.

Driving data orchestration

Even though the term ‘data management’ has become somewhat of a buzzword, in today’s world—fuelled by almost 2 billion users across APAC—data officers have to be able to manage the sheer volume of data flowing through their organisation. Typically, a DPO oversees data insights gathered from multiple touchpoints along the customer journey and helps unify previously siloed data from across an organisation to provide clean, reliable insight. By orchestrating and streamlining data, companies can create a 360-degree view of a consumer, helping build loyalty as well as enhancing the overall user experience. And this isn’t just restricted to marketing—data should be the bedrock of all company decisions, and as such the DPO will continue to play a strategic role in business development and implementation.

While Singapore leads the creativity-data maturity curve, now is a good time for organisations across APAC to take stock of their tech stack, and ensure they have the required expertise and the right data management strategies in place, rather than having to approach data glitches (or worse still, breaches) reactively.

Creating a stellar customer experience needs two main elements; regulated data and the correct tech solutions to automate, analyse, and deliver insights. The emergence the DPO Competency Framework must be seen as positive step forwards and a useful tool for companies looking to establish themselves as data leaders.

With the right combination or data and technology—championed by a strong and competent DPO—creativity can truly meet compliance to deliver the best customer experience campaigns in APAC, and beyond.


Joseph Suriya is senior marketing director for APAC at Tealium.

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