“Data is king. Installers: guard yours carefully”

Jason Clemmit, managing director, Certass

The recent industry news that the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) Group has collated data from its knowledge hub into a ‘Glazing Market Knowledge Report, and is charging for copies, (read GGP‘s report, here) may well rightly raise some alarm bells with local small-to-medium enterprise (SME) installers. When your data becomes a product, that is either distributed as a member benefit or sold for a profit, the key questions are ‘who benefits?’ and ‘who loses?’

Obviously, the first beneficiary will be the party selling or sharing that information. Then, there are the companies being given, or purchasing, the information, who can potentially use it to gain a commercial advantage.

The argument likely will be that, as the data is anonymised to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), then there is no harm in providing it. However, I firmly believe that any report which takes local knowledge and delivers it in an easy digestible format (for data miners) to large companies could cause definite harm to the SME installer, who already knows their local market. It is the typical contrast between the local installer, who operates on reputation, and local knowledge to larger companies, who have big sales and marketing budgets.

The data in the GGF’s report is likely to be of little to no use to a local installer, who can tell you which products sell best, probably estate by estate. They know what they quoted for a job and they know which jobs they lost. But the report promises to expose that key regional data on window and door installations over the last few years, including the number of installations, broken down by the number of windows and doors per job, as well as average costs per job and per unit.

In the IT world, data is king, so a local SME installer should guard theirs closely. Even anonymised data has the potential to do great harm to local markets. The question for SMEs is: who do you trust with your data? And, are you aware that reports like this could use your data in this way?

It’s situations like these which led Certass to form its installer protection committee, to create a platform where SME installers can have their voice heard. We meet every other month, to discuss what’s happening in the industry and get real-world views from installers, who tell us what support they would like to see from the industry. We believe this a much more valuable way of supporting the industry and our members.

As for Certass members’ data, it remains protected at all times. We only use the data that is given to us for the purpose it is given to us for – certifying installations, so installers have full control of what their data is used for.

Jason Clemmit
Managing director, Certass