In the search for next-generation data technologies, we need to get down to the mall, the marketplace and the virtual trading zone to really understand how data is being exchanged across modern cloud backbones.

This is the world of the data clean room – a technology principle and paradigm established to enable organizations to exchange the ‘shape of data flows’ they experience, record, manage, analyze, secure and store in the course of their daily (often 24×7) operational trading.

Given the presence and prevalence of these comparatively new technologies, what do we need to know about navigating this space?

According to Chadd Kenney, VP of product at cloud data protection company Clumio, using metadata and ephemeral environments to ensure multi-party invisibility for data collaboration has been around for a while, but new solutions such as Delta Sharing and Snowflake Data Sharing have evolved these so-called data clean rooms to large-scale data marketplaces. 

“But before companies begin to share customer data across these services, it is critical to ensure that the source data and metadata are both multi-level encrypted as well as immutably backed up,” advised Kenney.

He advises that multi-level encryption entails key and credential management across the cloud service provider, the company, its customer and potentially the customer’s customer. 

“Backups ensure that any data that may be overwritten, lost, or stolen in the process of data exchange is recoverable and able to be tracked back to a consistent point in time,” said Kenney. 

Multiple ‘munging’ mania

The bottom line from Clumio appears pretty clear i.e. maintaining sovereignty and separation of source data that reaches clean rooms or marketplaces is essential to data privacy, protection and compliance for any vendor, whether they’re ‘munging’ data from multiple customers or sending this data to third parties, especially when it comes to sensitive information, such as PII.

Also vocal on this topic is Steve Sobel in his role as global industry leader for communications, media and entertainment at data warehouse and data lakehouse company Databricks.

Sobel suggests that media and entertainment companies are dealing with more fragmented data than ever. The spike across multiple content platforms provides data from streaming, video, social media, in-person entertainment, subscriptions, and much more. 

“With all this data, industry leaders continue to face challenges in providing 1:1, personalized customer experiences as well as providing positive outcomes for advertisers. It has led businesses to explore new ways of acquiring precise insight into ever-changing customer behaviors, which is vital for understanding behavior to reduce churn and attract new, loyal, customers,” he said.

Privacy provisioning

The Databricks team also point us to the fact that we know that cookies are going away due to GDPR and CCPA privacy laws (Firefox and Safari already block third-party cookies by default and Google is ending support for third-party cookies in Chrome by late 2023), marketing and advertising leaders need new ways to gather and analyze external customer data in a place that is private and safe. 

“Every marketing organization is focused now on life beyond cookies and doubling down on collecting and activating first-party data,” said Sobel. “This is where data clean rooms come in. Clean rooms are becoming a significant focus area for safely sharing data that enhances audience targeting and personalization and ensures the effectiveness of an organization’s investments in customer data platforms (CDPs). For example, an advertiser might want to get a detailed view of their ad performance across different platforms, which requires analysis of the aggregated data from multiple data publishers.”

We must remember that clean rooms allow leaders from different organizations to collaborate, combine and analyze customer data in a secure, governed and privacy-safe environment.

“This creates an opportunity to use and collaborate on data for predictive and prescriptive analytics use cases, without compromising access to the raw consumer behavior,” said Sobel.

With data clean rooms, multiple participants can view and collaborate on data without the risk of exposing private information to partners. 

To facilitate collaboration across organizations, clean rooms – and secure data sharing solutions like Databricks’ Delta Sharing – provide a secure platform for organizations to combine their data with partners in a privacy-centric way, enabling them to unlock new insights and capabilities and achieve their business objectives in a cookie-less future.

About Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole. Adrian is a regular writer and blogger with Computer Weekly and others covering the application development landscape to detail the movers, shakers and start-ups that make the industry the vibrant place that it is. His journalistic creed is to bring forward-thinking, impartial, technology editorial to a professional (and hobbyist) software audience around the world. His mission is to objectively inform, educate and challenge - and through this champion better coding capabilities and ultimately better software engineering.