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The role of data in society is growing by the day. It is helping businesses connect with customers in new ways, allowing governments to better understand issues like global warming and COVID-19 as well as allowing companies to derive new insights into their own internal operations.

But with the increased usage of data also comes increased awareness into what data is and how it can be used.

High-profile cybersecurity breaches in recent years – think easyJet, the Australian National University and Marriott Hotels – have highlighted to consumers just how data collection works.

This has led to a major shift in how consumers feel about data privacy.

A 2017 study by PwC in the UK found that just 10 percent of consumers felt as though they had complete control over their data, while only 25 percent of consumers believed companies handle their sensitive personal data responsibly.

Although it is important to note that since 2017, data protection laws have shifted towards giving consumers more control over their data, the research highlights that consumer privacy concerns are real and need to be addressed.

How to ease concerns?

Perhaps the most interesting finding to come out of the report was this: 72 percent of consumers believe it is private businesses – not governments – that are best equipped to protect customer’s data.

While consumer data concerns are real and valid, businesses now have the opportunity to deploy effective data-led solutions that ease these concerns. 

At the top of the list when it comes to easing these concerns is giving consumers a sense of control over their data.

Some ways in which businesses can give consumers can be given a greater sense of control over their data is through:

  • Increasing transparency around what data is collected
  • Opt-in data collection controls
  • Categorising data into ‘required’ and ‘optional’ 
  • Allowing customers to control the type and amount of data that is collected about them
  • Giving customers the ability to opt-out

While some might believe enabling these increased customer controls over data will harm the business, evidence suggests the opposite is in fact true.

Giving consumers more control over their data creates a greater sense of trust. A 2018 Janrain study found that the majority of people (55 per cent) are willing to share some of their personal data with companies they trust.

At smrtr, we see ourselves as custodians – not owners – of the data we work with. That means our focus is on looking after and protecting this data. We have devised a number of creative ways to minimise the amount of data we use to generate insights and focus on quality over quantity. 

For example, our contracts ensure all data providers must meet applicable privacy requirements when sourcing, using and sharing data. Additionally, we are able to offer ‘onboarding’ solutions to ingest offline data and then combine this information with online data from our extensive database for valuable aggregated insights.

We also believe that by helping businesses achieve greater results, we are providing consumers with indirect value to their data. 

This means we always make sure people are in control over their data by collecting certain data with opt-in methods and giving consumers the ability to opt out should they request to. 

To find out more about how we work with our customers and their data, contact us and we’ll be in touch within the next business day.

By Boris Guennewig, Co-Founder and CTO