How much of your personal data will the corporate world access before you die? More than you know. For many of us, that can be a scary reality. As news of data breaches, hacking attempts, and unethical use of data continue to fill the airwaves, more and more customers are more likely to opt out of any requests asking for more personal information.
Don’t get me wrong – big data is not 100% bad. It also has the potential to save lives, lift people out of poverty, make life simpler and easier, and much more. As French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is certainly true for organizations that continue to take advantage of Big Data. In a recent interview, Timo Elliott, Global Innovation Evangelist at SAP, advised, “Big data holds the possibility of improving every aspect of our lives. However, there is always the potential for misuse. It’s important that companies use this information responsibly and not be too ‘creepy’.”
Build customer trust with these best practices for Big Data privacy
To govern the ethical use of Big Data, companies need to establish a new set of guiding principles. As David Jonker, senior director of Big Data initiatives at SAP, suggested, “It’s not just about a transaction anymore. It’s how you build trust over time, very much like our individual relationships.” When you build that trust, customers will be more willing to provide information.
So what does that mean for your organization and its application of Big Data analysis? Here are seven privacy considerations that should be top of mind for every Big Data initiative.
- Do not fear customers opting out. To build a long-term relationship with customers, you need to give them the freedom to decide when they will give their information. Of course, depending on the privacy laws of the country you are operating in, you may or may not have such a choice. The key is to not be afraid when customers opt out. You have not lost them – it just means you have to change how you engage with them to earn that trust. And once you have gained it, they will remain loyal to your brand.
- Go beyond technology to secure your data from outsiders that want it. To lock down the data center, most organizations impulsively resort to real-time intrusion detection systems. Although this is a good idea, you must do more by establishing governance and policies to make data is handled properly. Believe it or not, most breaches happen outside of the data center. They start in less secure environments into which people take data from the data center and move it to a laptop or mobile device that later gets lost or stolen. There is an opportunity to use Big Data to spot data breaches. Predictive algorithms can help match patterns to pinpoint suspicious downloads and access to information internally.
- Manage data across a patchwork of systems, regions, and privacy laws. You cannot compile data from all of your systems worldwide and analyze it all. You need a new approach to assessing data across the data centers in each country in which you are operating. When you do that, then you can look to uncover those insights that apply globally.
- Respect your customers’ tolerance for data privacy. You can still continue to build real-time systems that leverage Big Data and generate those insights. On the other hand, you must also individualized the use and response to that information based on each customer’s tolerance for information sharing and privacy.
- Understand when it’s appropriate to use the data. Just because you have the information does not necessarily mean you should use it. For example, to receive phone calls, we need telecommunication providers to know where we are. So we allow them to have this information about us. However, this does not mean that providers should use that data to send targeted marketing and track where customers are 24 hours a day.
- Apply the power of Big Data in aggregate while protecting the individual record. This item is especially true in healthcare. In aggregate, this information has the potential to save lives. But individual records have to be protected. There’s a balance between providing this information to as many people as possible to improve healthcare and also making sure it is not given to the wrong people for the wrong purpose.
- Implement trust – not just technology. Of course, technology is a critical enabler of data privacy and security. However, there also needs to be transparency and intent to build customer trust. Businesses must be honest and upfront with their customers, letting them know why and how the information is being used.
Want more on how advanced analytics and connectivity is changing business? See Big Data, The Internet Of Things, And The Fourth V.