a.com_logo_RGBAn article in The New York Times touched off a spirited debate about the work culture at Amazon, now the most valuable retailer in the country. One of the central issues at hand is that Amazon uses data not only to provide an exceptional customer experience, but also to manage its staff and improve productivity.

To many of us, this news comes as no surprise. For years now, companies of all sizes have been increasingly turning to data analytics to improve employee engagement and performance.

I also see it as indicative of the broad societal trends happening in today’s “data culture.” As a marketer, here are a few points to keep in mind while Amazon’s data-driven approach is in the spotlight:

The data-driven shift is happening…now. There’s no denying that we’re moving toward more individualization – in the workplace, in the marketplace, in healthcare, etc. That means it’s time for you to progress beyond segmentation to true one-to-one individualization in a real-time context. Odds are, your competitors already have. In fact, in Teradata’s 2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey, 90 percent of marketers said that making their marketing individualized is a priority. What’s more, the number of companies where data driven marketing is either embedded or strategic has more than doubled since we first started studying data-driven marketing trends two years ago. 78 percent of marketers now use data systematically; in 2013, only 36 percent did.

Because data collection is increasingly ubiquitous, it’s shaping expectations. As data-driven approaches evolve, people are starting to expect more precise individualization, whether that’s in their performance reviews, fitness routines or shopping experiences. Your marketing campaigns need to meet those expectations. You need to understand your customers as individuals – each with his/her own preferences and behaviors –and then provide meaningful experiences based on that knowledge. As you do, be mindful that…

The Creep Factor is real, and it can be mitigated. Critics of Amazon’s data-driven workplace say it’s too much like “Big Brother,” and from a consumer standpoint, there’s no doubt that when individualization goes too far, it stops being helpful and gets … well, “creepy.” To avoid crossing that line, you need to reach customers with what they want, when they want it and via the channel they prefer. If you’re looking for a single platform to help you create those kinds of customer relationships across all digital channels, you may want to consider Teradata Digital Marketing Center, a solution that brings together a wide spectrum of digital marketing channels and data in one platform through a SaaS-based solution for email, mobile, social, web marketing, segmentation, advertising and analytics.

Your data-driven approach must align with corporate strategy. Another way to avoid being creepy (not to mention, unsuccessful): Don’t collect data for the sake of collecting data. Collect data so it leads to actionable insights. If you want to achieve desired business outcomes, you need a data strategy that permeates the enterprise, driven by a partnership between marketing, IT and other key business functions.

Prescriptive analytics are on the horizon. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Google and Apple are rapidly developing technology to anticipate users’ needs and provide options for action. Prescriptive analytics are white hot right now… but that’s a topic for another day.

What are you learning from the debate over Amazon’s data-driven approaches? Please share your insights below.