Scaling Data Collection to Protect Consumer Privacy

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Big Data may present dilemma after dilemma, but collecting too much information may be the greatest faux pas of all. Businesses across industries constantly struggle to develop an effective Big Data strategy, yet many fail to recognize that gathering every possible morsel of customer information will only leave them bogged down, drowning in an unyielding data deluge with no way to bring this insight to action.
Data Privacy

Big Data may present dilemma after dilemma, but collecting too much information may be the greatest faux pas of all. Businesses across industries constantly struggle to develop an effective Big Data strategy, yet many fail to recognize that gathering every possible morsel of customer information will only leave them bogged down, drowning in an unyielding data deluge with no way to bring this insight to action.If companies are to successfully manage vital customer information and use such data to improve the customer experience, they must first determine precisely which points are essential to enhance their targeted, personalized approach. By limiting the amount of data flowing into the organization, companies can then act upon this critical customer data to boost both engagement and satisfaction.

Here, we speak with Meyar Sheik, CEO of Certona, to explore what companies are doing wrong when it comes to data collection and ways they can scale their strategy to reduce confusion and improve customer loyalty:

1to1 Media: What are the biggest issues facing companies when it comes to data collection and privacy? How has changing consumer demand altered brand behavior?

Meyar Sheik: The biggest issue facing companies when it comes to data collection and privacy is collecting too much personally identifiable information. Some brands still cling to the Big Data mantra that "more is better." Yes, businesses need to collect some personal data to process and ship orders. However, from a personalization standpoint, the truth is that businesses don't need to collect any data that a consumer doesn't want to share. With the right tools and technologies, businesses can still effectively engage target audiences without collecting data specific to an individual.

1to1: How can companies go about scaling back on the data they collect? How can they determine what points are useful and necessary in order to improve focus?

MS: The first step to scaling back the amount of data collected is taking into consideration what kind of data should be stored. This means harnessing Big Data in a more intelligent and efficient manner. Specifically, companies should only gather and store data that is insightful or useful to their business without being intrusive.

1to1: With privacy, transparency, and control at the top of every consumer's mind, how can businesses achieve long-term success while catering to these emerging customer needs?

MS: Transparency and flexibility are paramount when it comes to appealing to consumers' demand for privacy. The last thing any brand wants is to antagonize its current customers or miss out on potential new customers because of privacy concerns.

Consumers are very aware of the intrusive online and mobile tracking practices of today. Marketers that prioritize transparency will gain customers' trust and ensure long-term success. This means being specific, clear, and open about what data is being collected and tracked, and how it is being used. Customers also want the flexibility to choose whether or not to share their data. In this vein, marketers can offer each individual the choice to opt-in to emails and marketing campaigns and consent to track their movements online or via mobile device. While privacy is a top concern, consumers also want to be entertained and engaged. The best route is to create a great experience that starts by collecting non-intrusive and insightful data about a customer, such as contextual or behavioral information.

1to1: Because data collection and privacy will continue to present both problems and opportunities, what can companies do to safeguard future customer relationships today?

MS: To protect customer relationships, businesses must take every step to protect customer data from the onset--this includes having a process in place to ensure that everyone in the organization is aware of and adheres to all data protection policies. This awareness and compliance is critical for companies of all sizes because a single violation has the potential to break a brand's reputation and bank account.

Additionally, businesses need to embrace a transparent approach to their data collection and targeting practices. Technology today is powerful and adaptive. Data analytics can offer incredible insights without collecting any personally identifiable information. This is the win-win approach--businesses get the insights from data while earning the trust that establishes long-term customer relationships.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION