Are we living in a world in which every digital printer should be handling variable data? Often, the blogs, the seminars, the press releases act as if they should. I wonder.
Earlier this year, Target got egg on its face when it was discovered that it was profiling its credit card customers for pregnancy cues, then was overtly marketing maternity clothes, diapers, and related products to suspected mothers-to-be. . . including teenagers. One particularly embarrassing and highly public incident resulted, not in a change to Target’s profiling policies, but in how the resulting knowledge was disguised.
Then there are all those fun direct mail bloopers that talk about how names got mixed up or how some disgruntled employee went into a database and created highly embarrassing fields.
Then there was this recently blog post from a woman who received the previous homeowner’s highly sensitive financial information in her mailbox years after she’d bought the home. It made her wonder whether her financial institutions would be sending her financial information to that home address long after she — like the previous homeowners — had moved out.
Such stories raise the issue that handling data is more than a mechanical process. It requires judgment in how that data should be used. (Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.) It requires the establishment of safeguards to ensure that mistakes such as happened to the blogger above don’t occur on your watch.
In other words, it requires a wealth of judgment and experience that don’t come in a box.