Data Defined. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- November 07, 2018
At the recent Gartner Symposium in Orlando, I had the pleasure of presenting a major research study that NTT DATA completed with Oxford Economics. The study surveyed 500 executives and 5,000 consumers in 15 countries to help us better understand the corporate use of big data and analytics and the shifting consumer attitudes toward privacy and cybersecurity. The study provided insights into the state of the data economy in a new opt-in era, where the consumer is the most powerful player.
At the Gartner conference, we opened the dialogue with clients and technical practitioners. We asked, “Why has 2018 been a pivotal moment in the development of the data economy?” We found it stemmed from two key areas. The first shift began with the revelation that data shared with an innocent-looking quiz app on Facebook was used by Cambridge Analytica in an attempt to influence the 2016 US presidential election. The second shift took place when the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, requiring companies in EU countries (and those elsewhere doing business with EU citizens) to make data collection an explicit consumer choice instead of the default option.
There is definitely a movement happening with how individuals and companies use, provide, interact, track and protect data. Participants in NTT DATA’s session, Data Defined. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, learned that attitudes toward data can be influenced by many factors. For example, consumers will share sensitive data but don’t trust the companies they share with, or fully understand how much data is collected or how it is used. Surprisingly, only 23 percent of consumers don’t accept cookies.
Companies and executives, on the other hand, underestimate consumer privacy concerns. Only eight percent of consumers strongly agree that they trust businesses to keep personal information safe. Companies are better at protecting their own financial and operational data than their customers. Age, geographic environment and income levels all play a role in data confidence and sharing. It’s apparent that companies must bridge the confidence gap between business and consumer, as newly empowered consumers pose both a challenge and an opportunity. Those companies and executives that understand how to harness the power of data while growing trusted relationships with customers will win in the opt-in era marketplace.
There are some bright spots in data’s future. Our research highlights behaviors of “Data Leaders,” a small group of companies that exhibit some forward-thinking characteristics. These leaders:
- Understand consumer privacy concerns;
- Are more likely to have a plan to make use of the data they collect (91% vs. 76% of others);
- Have a better understanding of regulations around the world (98% vs. 77%);
- Are more likely to invest in advanced technologies. They expect AI to drive operating efficiencies (85% vs. 57%), enhance customer experience (75% vs. 56%) and manage risk (78% vs. 56%).
As a CTO and a consumer, I could not help but offer some advice to my fellow Gartner attendees for consideration as they venture to further develop their data strategies:
- Treat data as an asset.
- Incorporate data strategy into your overall business plan: Make technology investments as part of a larger strategy across the organization, and understand that AI is much more than parsing data. It has the power to be taken seriously as an important basis for new products and services. All the data requested from consumers must be captured, cleaned, managed, secured and used within regulatory guidelines and to the benefit of the consumer as well as the business. Consider the impact and opportunities available for data, beyond company walls (ecosystem partners, government/infrastructure partners).
- Respect the newly empowered consumer: Be aware of their differences and be transparent with data policies. Developing the trust of your consumers is paramount to survival.
- Be prepared for what’s to come: Updated regulations and ongoing changes are inevitable. Have a change management system in place to rapidly adapt and respond.
- Invest in talent, partnerships and training to build the right mix of skills needed in the data economy.
- Understand that security is a great unsolved problem of the digital era and will increasingly be a competitive differentiator for those who do it well.
We had an international audience — represented by professionals from all major industries across Asia, South America, North America, Africa and Europe. I had the pleasure of speaking to many audience members from financial services, healthcare, public sector, education, technology and manufacturing. Across the spectrum they all agreed that our research and presentation was timely, given their focus on managing and securing their data, data governance and the enormous challenges associated with harnessing the power of data through analytics and AI as they work towards building a self-driving business. During my talk I cautioned that we live in a data-driven world where consumers need to be aware of how they manage their data, what they opt-in to and the potential ramifications of their behaviors and actions as data is being captured. We can be tracked in ways that were inconceivable five years ago.
Download the full report The Future of Data: Adjusting to an Opt-In Economy.
What can a self-driving business do for you? Discover more on our website: How To Build A Self-Driving Business.