Rethinking Privacy

By Samuel Greengard

It’s clear that digital tools and technologies has fundamentally changed the way personal data is collected, managed and used by business, government and society. The notion of privacy is changing, and achieving a balance between business needs and consumer desires is paramount.

But navigating the path is increasingly tricky. According to a just-released study conducted by Accenture, 80 percent of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. between the ages of 20 and 40 believe that total privacy is a thing of the past and 87 percent believe that businesses lack adequate safeguards and protections for their personal data.

The survey also found that 64 percent of consumers are concerned about Web sites tracking their behavior, and 56 percent continue to enter credit card information on a purchase-by-purchase basis rather than having the details stored online. What’s more, 70 percent of respondents believe businesses aren’t transparent about how personal information is used.

It’s apparent that many consumers believe that companies are shirking on their responsibility to manage and secure personal data. Yet, ironically, these same consumers are eager to turn over their data—given the right set of circumstances. Nearly half (49 percent) said they would not object to having their buying behavior tracked if it would result in relevant offers arriving from brands and suppliers they like.

So how does an enterprise strike a balance between gathering and using data effectively and delivering the sense of privacy that consumers increasingly demand? Glen Hartman, global managing director of Digital Transformation for Accenture Interactive, says that it all comes down to assembling “technology and strategies to deliver relevant and loyalty-enabling experiences to consumers.”

It’s critical to understand that today’s consumers are empowered like never before and data is now abundant. For CIOs, this environment requires different thinking and a different power structure. In many cases, it means putting the CMO at the driver’s seat for digital transformation. It also means adopting a consumer-centric approach that taps loyalty programs and other incentives to motivate consumers to willingly provide their data in exchange for tangible benefits.

“It’s critical to develop a deeper understanding of the new rules of consumer engagement and build holistic engagement programs,” says Hartman. “For consumers, there’s a direct correlation between privacy tolerance and value.”

About the Author

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, “Five Ways to Become a Digital Disruptor,” click here.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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