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We have yet to harness the true value of data

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wright Studio)

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US, that came into effect in January 2020, will restrict collection and storage of consumer data, giving citizens more control over how the tech sector profits from their information. Under this legislation, consumers will be able to instruct tech companies, publishers or brands to delete their data and opt out from an organisation’s terms of service.

Enhanced data use can lead to better business

We should remember the costs of mismanaging data extend far beyond fines. Long-term it can affect share price and market perceptions. You may design incredible automation software, but organisations need to power this with reliable and extensive data insights.

As consumers, we are increasingly aware that by using digital platforms, such as search engines, social media, maps and other tools, we are essentially trading our personal information for access to services and products. Over the past 18 months, there have been some encouraging findings to indicate that consumers are more willing to share data. The DMA’s ‘Data Privacy: What the consumer really thinks’ report found that 51 per cent of respondents view data exchange as essential to the smooth running of the modern digital economy, up sharply from 38 per cent in 2012. They are also receiving improved service by sharing their data, with 46 per cent agreeing – up from 33 per cent in 2012.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The ICO’s recent ‘Information Rights Strategic Plan: Trust and Confidence’ 2019 report found just 28 per cent of respondents trusted brands with their data. This figure must be much higher if businesses are not to be hindered by consumer distrust in how their data is being managed.

But how do we measure the value of data?

Organisations that work to identify the strategic value of data, rather than trying to quantify its monetary worth, will undoubtedly be far better equipped to use it in this new context. They will be better able to make new breakthroughs in innovation. Placing a valuation on data is very complicated, in any case. Who ascertains its value in a data-driven economy? Is it the business or consumer, or both?

The value chain is no longer simple or linear. Defining the true value of data will come down to organisations coming together, asking the big questions, sharing insights and case studies through the campaign’s research, roundtables, networking events and seminars. We want to prove that doing the right thing with data builds stronger, impervious business models. There is a clear need for ethical, principal-based frameworks to showcase data as a true force for good.

Data innovation offers limitless opportunity

In an era of mass personalisation and technological innovation, we need to demonstrate that the data consumers share is used to serve them better. We’re heading into a future powered by artificial intelligence (AI), where our lives will increasingly be run by algorithms. When things go right, they will go wonderfully right, and when things go wrong, they could hinder the customer experience.

What that means in real terms is that if we are incorrectly profiled by an algorithm, we could lose access to products, services and at times even our rights as a consumer. With AI a key focus of intense technological development, there is little doubt that the data sets they rely on will drive competitive advantages.

Increased trust and more personalised customer experiences can help lay the foundations for future technological advancements and the continued proliferation of data. Therefore, consumers must be reassured that every time their data is sourced and processed that it is supported by a code of ethics under a universal framework.

Data innovation that is both responsible and transparent will embed a much-needed culture of trust in wider society, which can drive better business outcomes. Consequently, there has never been a more important time to think about our values as individuals, organisations and as a society to ensure we’re putting down the right ethical foundations for future generations.

Rachel Aldighieri, Managing Director, DMA