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Database Management : An Elementary Approach

March 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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In preparation for this issue's feature article on database management, we came up with the most vague question possible to ask printers: How do you add value to your customers' jobs through database management?

You can almost see the panic that crosses the respondent’s eyes. There are a number of ways the subject can be approached, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But, there is a universal solution—whatever your definition of management, as long as your company can (in its custodial duties) enable clients to get the most return out a relevant, fresh and accurate customer file, call it whatever you wish.

There’s a correlation between database management and education. Think of a client’s data as an elementary school student. You’re dealing with someone else’s baby. This child needs to be kept safe and secure. He/she must be manipulated (taught) to perform at its highest level. And, as its “teacher,” it is up to you to find out what your “pupil” wants to achieve in life and provide guidance to attain those goals. Do all of these well, and it will be your competition that’s taken to school.

Not surprisingly, there are printing/marketing services firms that have taken their data management capabilities to a higher level. GLS Companies, a Brooklyn Park, MN-based printing, direct mail and marketing firm, recently underwent a stringent review of its procedures to underscore its commitment to client data security. The review adheres to the Service Organization Controls (SOC 2) standards and replaces the reports generated under the SAS 70 (Statement on Auditing Standards).

Developed by the American Institute of CPAs, the SOC 2 standards enable GLS clients to review reports of procedures used to secure data such as client and customer mailing lists, proprietary product and marketing information, as well as physical assets. Two key areas are covered under SOC 2 reports: physical access to client data and network security. The audit reviewed the way GLS collects, processes, transmits, stores, organizes, maintains and disposes of customer information. Reports also analyze plant security procedures.

“There’s quite a few details underneath the audit, but a lot of it is based on the unique situation of the environment and the compensating controls that are built to layer security,” notes Frank Powell, vice president of information technology at GLS Companies. “I see a general trend toward an increase in security awareness among our clients, and not just the health care and financial services companies.”


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