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This article forms part of the Business Implication companion series to the Accenture Technology Vision 2012. Other articles in this series will cover data culture and social commerce.
The growing amounts of customer data being collected mean that companies are learning more about their customers than ever before. However, consumers are waking up to these practices and are markedly more sensitive to data privacy issues than they were a decade ago—and regulators are also on the move. Accenture identifies the issues and proposes a way forward in this emerging “privacy economy.”
Each year, the Technology Vision team at Accenture Technology Labs sets out to determine the emerging IT developments that will have the greatest impact on enterprises, government agencies and other organizations in the next three to five years. These efforts produce a handful of robust hypotheses, which have been synthesized into the six overarching technology trends in Accenture’s Technology Vision 2012 report, with the goal of guiding CIOs in their strategies to drive new opportunities based on an evolving technology landscape.
But, times are changing. With each passing year, the rapid rate of innovation within IT is having an increasingly larger impact on businesses beyond the CIO organization. To address this new reality, this year we have created Business Implication companion pieces to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2012. These pieces walk through opportunities and issues driven by the vision technology trends and start the C-suite discussions about what needs to be done now to prepare for and take advantage of these changes. Technology is playing a key role in reshaping how companies do business.
Some of you are already having these conversations with your IT colleagues. For those of you that aren’t, are you ready?
Read the Accenture Technology Vision 2012 for more about these trends.
More is known about the average person than ever before. Today, organizations can access astonishing amounts of information about their customers.
Few people are happy about that.
Customers’ reactions run the gamut from unease to outrage to acquiescence, raising prickly questions about whether organizations—nonprofit as well as for-profit—are behaving responsibly as they collect, use and often share data. There’s also the tangible issue of the risks to an organization’s reputation if that organization breaches customers’ trust by losing or exposing any of their customers’ data without their say-so.
These issues have ramifications for business leaders as they seek to balance the push to capture, evaluate and extract value from customer data with the need to master privacy issues. In fact, Accenture believes that it is now possible to see the beginnings of a “privacy economy”—one in which data is essentially a tradable asset.
In the privacy economy, a company’s privacy practices can become a competitive differentiator, and service providers and consumers share responsibility for appropriate protection of data. In the future, best practices won’t be driven solely by compliance efforts; instead, companies will become “co-regulators,” self-monitoring in nimble, practical ways to help fill gaps where conventional regulation can’t keep pace.
The privacy economy is very much new territory, and there is clear evidence that consumers are much more concerned about data privacy issues. And, thanks to regulators and social media platforms, they are able to make companies that overstep the bounds pay.
Businesses are proceeding cautiously on the data privacy front and tend to be in reactive mode at present. They will need to understand the risks surrounding the use and misuse of personal data, not to mention the constantly evolving social norms around personal data. They will also have to pay close attention to regulation—worldwide—to anticipate and outpace the ever-changing rules and to accept that while countries have borders, data does not.
Specifically, the C-suite needs to:
Perform a privacy assessment to evaluate risks based on existing datacollection and data-usage policies; develop a strategy for mitigating identified risks based on this assessment.
Evaluate data privacy policies, practices, and regulatory precedents.
Consider the role of privacy certifications to better position the brand and help the organization develop a strong privacy program.
Define strategies for improved transparency and control, identifying the options for consumers.
Align data services goals with privacy goals.
Evaluate business models and revenue streams for their impact on data privacy; implement appropriate restrictions on data collection, usage and sharing practices.
Analyze relationships with data brokers and make sure they are in alignment with privacy policies.
Create a co-regulation strategy to help the organization move quickly beyond a culture of compliance.
August 16, 2012
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