Can Providing Value to People Offset Big Data Privacy Concerns?

Loraine Lawson
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Five Ways to Use Data to Be More Relevant to Customers

We look so often at the business and government end of Big Data, it’s easy to forget that the same capabilities are also transforming life for the rest of us.

A recent Wall Street Journal article examines how cloud-based services and APIs (application programming interfaces) are being used to change people’s lives in very personal ways. What’s really powering most of these new options, however, is more access to big datasets, including open data sets such as Data.gov.

The site offers access to more than 88,000 data sets from 175 agencies, with information ranging from local crime statistics to wholesale prices of organic food. The site even makes it easy for developers to display pharmaceutical and drug recall data.


The article looks at how these Big Data-rich services are transforming fertility treatment, spring break travel, driving skills, coupon shopping and community improvement.

Giving something to end users in exchange for the data seems to play a key role in offsetting Big Data’s privacy concerns, according to Dominique Delport, global managing director of Havas Media Group.

Each year, Havas Media Group releases a study on Meaningful Brands, which ranks how well companies support our quality of life and well-being.

For the past few years, technology brands have led the list, but Delport questions whether privacy concerns might soon trump the benefits technology companies offer.

“It's true that Google Glass and Facebook photos are also wrestling with these issues, but as long as they continue to offer something that adds real value and wellbeing to us all, they will teach us a lot,” Delport writes in a recent Guardian column. “Most consumers only find privacy a concern when they don't get something they value in return.”

Another factor Delport identifies in the privacy versus value equation is that few companies seem capable of achieving the level of data insight that we see with big technology firms and retailers such as Target. For most companies, data silos and an inability to manage change are still huge barriers, he adds.

“If you want to create and harness the immense potential surrounding people data, it's pretty obvious that you have to start with the people, not the data,” Delport writes. “Internally, you must connect your teams and eradicate silos, putting data and content at your core.”



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