Build Value While Honoring Values. Rethinking Data Strategy in the Age of Data Privacy & Protection

Big data with encrypted computer code.

By Jonathan Joseph, Head of Solutions and Marketing at Ketch

Technology and data continue to shape our economies and dramatically change the way we live and work. During the data “gold rush” some have lost sight of people’s right to privacy. Today, businesses are looking for the responsible path forward: How to build value in increasingly data-driven and automated economies, while honoring people’s data dignity.

Some businesses believe they face an impossible choice: dismiss privacy requirements and user personal data to grow, or comply and stagnate. This is a false dichotomy. Respecting people’s data dignity, and growth with data go hand-in-hand. In fact, the next stage of the data revolution depends on trust and data dignity being built into the ecosystem. Below are three principles to consider as you put your customer at the center of your data strategy, and reconcile data dignity with data utility.

Transparency: In plain language, articulate what you’re doing with data

Transparency is the antidote to solving the privacy communication problem. For too long companies have been using cookie notices and overly legal language to ask people for consent to process their data. “Our website uses cookies to collect information” doesn’t help anyone make an informed decision on how their data is being used or what is being collected.

People should be fully aware of how you intend to use their data, (under GDPR this is referred to as the “data processing purpose.”) Cookies are data collection tools. They collect data so they can be processed for a specific purpose — say analytics or personalized advertising. What matters is that you’re upfront and transparent with people. Simply telling people that a website uses cookies is neither helpful nor sufficiently transparent.

Transparency is an important first step to reinforcing trust, and people respond well to transparent data practices, which in turn drives brand preference and purchase behavior. Sixty percent of Americans say “companies should be required to be more transparent about their privacy policies so that consumers can make more informed choices.” Ensure the privacy experience you provide your customers is accessible and clear, and you will build differentiation and competitive advantage and reap the rewards with increased loyalty and growth.

Control: Give people control over how their data is used

In a recent McKinsey survey on consumer data, people “are becoming increasingly intentional about what types of data they share—and with whom.” Of course, in a highly data-driven economy, with consumers shopping, managing their finances, and paying their bills online, they understand that data is a core ingredient in the value exchange between consumer and brands. But, consumers will share data for transactions they consider important, and will restrict the amount and type of data they share for transactions they perceive as unimportant.

The proliferation of data breaches, and the steadily growing list of privacy regulations are all increasing consumer awareness of their data rights, and people are seeking out tools that give them control over how their data is used.

But control needs to go beyond the requirements of the privacy regulations. Consumers want tools that give them a finer degree of granularity over marketing preferences with a specific brand. What’s more, they want the ability to express their preferences once, and be assured those choices will be reflected across all touch points, devices and channels.

Orchestration: Consumers expect their privacy choices to be reflected across your ecosystem 

The “buck stops here”, in this case, with businesses. When people take the time to express or update their privacy preferences, it’s your obligation to ensure it is reflected with every interaction they have with your brand, even when you use vendors to process that data. In the McKinsey study referenced above, 71% percent of people said they would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission. There’s no hiding behind a contract with your vendors in the court of public perception. A technical, programmatic solution is required.

This takes a bit of orchestration, as most companies have multiple platforms and systems that touch the customer experience in one way or another. Traditionally, updating privacy choices across ecosystems has been a largely manual and error-prone process, when done at all. But this is changing. Programmatic tools and standards allow brands to collect and orchestrate a consumer’s privacy preference across their entire tech stack in real time. Orchestration is a trust multiplier; when consumers see that you honor their privacy preferences throughout the ecosystem they are more willing to share their data in the future.

Privacy-aware data lets you use data even more

Chief Data Officers with whom I’ve spoken tell me they want the ability to share data with their data science and data analytics teams but are limited because of the lack of comprehensive privacy controls. The responsible data practices described above will give teams the confidence that their data assets are privacy safe and primed for more use cases that can power growth.

Looked at in this light, privacy becomes a factor for growth by distinguishing one’s brand as a respectful partner in helping their customers manage some aspect of their lives. It’s easy to see how brands that embrace the new rules of the road will position themselves for success.

About the Author

Jonathan Joseph is the Head of Solutions and Marketing at Ketch, a platform for programmatic privacy, governance, and security. Passionate about innovation, his career is focused on disruptive technology and organizational change.