Authors | Punit Bhatia & Dennis Van Avendonk
Data privacy regulations are here to stay. Four years after their introduction, EU General Data Protection Regulations are a powerful force. These GDPR rules continue to shake up the privacy world and set new standards in the field of data protection.
Several high-profile cases involving companies like Google and Facebook have seen the EU cracking down on technology giants and have shown that not even the American Big Tech corporations are any longer immune.
Important considerations include the Data Privacy trends forecast to make headlines this year – what is hot and what is not in 2022.
Trust – Hard to gain and easy to lose
Trust is a big issue. Data privacy concerns may originally have focused on compliance (through regulations like EU GDPR) but this has changed. As consumers become ever more wary of sharing their data, and regulators increase privacy requirements, companies are waking up to the fact that data privacy can become a business advantage.
Organisations want to achieve more and can use privacy initiatives to build trust and provide value for their clients. User experience and brand reputation go far beyond the barebones of regulatory compliance, and recent research highlights how companies which invest in privacy tend to benefit from increased trust and loyalty from their customers.
Consumers have never been more aware of their rights. They know how much data is gathered by not just Big Tech but also by retailers and internet-connected devices. And with this insight comes the realisation that there is a need to protect this (personal) data. Consumers want to be confident that their data is being used in an ethical and responsible way. They are starting to exercise their rights to know what data is stored and to manage that stored data by updating sharing or deleting it. Consumers also want assurances that they have the choice of opting out of allowing their personal information to be gathered.
Companies that are open about how they handle consumer data will build a beneficial relationship with their clients, and with it a competitive advantage.
Value – What is in it for me?
The sharing of personal data must be part of a value exchange where consumers see a benefit in return. Consumers understand that a great customer experience is often a personalised one, and that requires sharing personal data. But the data must be gathered and processed in a transparent and legitimate way.
Recent data breaches that exposed millions of records worldwide made headline news and made consumers wary – even if they have not been directly affected by the breach. Consumers may well question whether sharing personal data and leaving digital traces is worth the risk of a particular transaction. It is valid for them to query just how much information an organisation needs to offer them a product or service.
Organisations must not only ask themselves if the data being collected is necessary, they must also consider how it will be used and on what basis, and think about the implications of how they will manage that data if at some point in the future it becomes a liability. It makes sense that consumers are more likely to trust the company that asks only for information relevant to its products or services, or the one that limits the amount of personal information requested. Privacy laws now mandate that companies make clear to their customers what is in it for them and gather only the bare minimum of data required to offer a specific product or service.
Consumers also expect to be able to change their minds and retain the ability to reverse an earlier decision to share data if they do not find a value in that exchange. They are ever more mindful of their data imprint and will continue to enforce the right for their data to be forgotten or deleted.
But there is an upside to these considerations of data privacy. Embedding ethical data use within your organisation will support stronger strategic choices and help to avoid bias.
Data Management – Why it matters
Data privacy in the modern world has much to do with data protection.
Ask yourself, do you know the source of all the data that your organisation stores? Do you know where the data is stored? Effective data management will help you to know what data is being collected by your organisation, how it is being processed, where that data flows and who has access to it.
Legacy (outdated) technology stacks and the sudden influx of new technologies are the enemies of effective data governance. The challenge of adopting new technology is often also working out what to do with the old. As an organisation, you need to examine your current and legacy technology packages and understand how to stack them to be able to effectively manage their data and optimise customers’ experience.
If data is the new gold, then it must be afforded protection in line with its value. Data governance and data lineage strategies must become a fundamental part of your technology architecture.
What kind of World do we want to live in?
It’s a jungle out there. The world of data privacy, data protection and data management is a complex one. Trust is a key driver, and privacy laws are helping to accelerate and enforce actions that include data management.
Privacy regulation shows no sign of abating, and as more laws are passed, companies (in particular multinationals) are beginning to adopt a more holistic, international and strategic approach to data privacy. Regulations such as EU GDPR will be adopted as standard practice, with companies then incorporating regional laws to ensure compliance for their customers.
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