This year, the battle lines are being drawn in the fight for consumer privacy.
In January, Apple CEO Tim Cook, took a stand for consumer privacy rights in an article for Time Magazine, asserting that consumers have a right to know how their data is being used.
The past few years have been like the “wild west” in data harvesting. Taking a stand for consumer privacy at this moment in time is a calculated move on Apple’s part. Building trust around data and privacy is necessary in today’s digital world.
Apple is wise to focus on trust being the next big thing. The tech company’s bold position confirms that online privacy is a polarizing issue of our time. And you can expect more businesses to follow suit.
On the other side, big companies are even becoming more bold in their attempts to collect consumer data. In January, TechCrunch reported both Facebook and Google had apps in the Apple Store that were shut down because they were tracking users on their devices, flying in the face of Apple’s policies.
Businesses we trust and depend on have found a shady path to making big money — tracking users and brokering their data. And for some, it’s going to be a tough habit to break.
For consumers, agreeing to give up some data is an expected part of digital life. Most of the time, if we want (or need) to use an app, buy a product, or subscribe to a service, we can’t avoid a certain amount of data in trade.
But consumer advocates and governments are starting to step in. Purchasing a product online shouldn’t lead to your data being sold to a broker. Credit card companies and online services shouldn’t be collecting and selling your information without your knowledge or consent. As Cook mentions in his article, these violations happen every second of every day.
As regulations and consumer advocates stop companies from harvesting data for a competitive advantage, our digital world becomes more and more polarized. Good vs. bad companies, trustworthy vs. suspicious business practices. So what does the next age of data look like for businesses?
The crack-down on shady data practices is starting. Cook’s article calls on the U.S. Congress to “pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation.”
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) implemented in Europe last spring is the most comprehensive legal mechanism so far, intending to put control back into the hands of the consumer. Under the GDPR, consumers can explicitly deny or agree to transferring their data to a company they trust.
Being known as a “trustworthy” brand is becoming a requirement to doing business online.
Trust is The New Age of Data
As data collection and legislation matures, it’s time to re-think how data can create something beneficial for the consumer. And this is where data really excels — it can personalize mutually-beneficial, two-way relationships with consumers, setting companies up to perfectly serve their customer base.
This new age of consumer data will be about forming more useful relationships with individuals. Think about movie suggestions on Netflix, or useful product suggestions on Amazon. The right products can be offered to the right buyers — even more so, the right products can actually be invented and refined to anticipate the buyers’ needs and serve them perfectly.
And customers will have easy access and full rights to approve or deny a company’s forays into their data.
Making a Data-Enabled Future Possible
Zoom ahead to the Jetsons future and imagine your AmazonFresh App alerts you that it’s just ordered sourdough bread, soy milk and eggs because it knows you’re about to run out. You’ve already agreed with AmazonFresh that you trust them to order on your behalf because they know what you want, saving you time and decreasing your mental load.
I know I’m looking forward to the day when a self-driving car shows up, unordered, in anticipation of my flight, and at the right time based on traffic and immigration lines at the airport. But we don’t get to this future without some sort of two-way data relationship.
The new age of data requires a big adjustment for many businesses as well as consumers. Instead of seeing data agreements and privacy as a challenge, think about knowing more about your customer and serving them better, more creatively, more uniquely.
Data can build a better relationship with a more invested audience who find value in a product or service. The first step is to rebuild that trust.
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