Q&A: Is Big Data a Scapegoat in the Privacy Panic?

Aug 17, 2018

Article ImageData is the fuel that keeps most digital businesses running, but in recent months we've seen data practices come under fire, be regulated, and generally be subjected to more public scrutiny. While some think it's about time people wake up to how their digital data is being used to target them, others think fears about data usage is just another over-reaction to something most people don't really comprehend. EContent had a chance to interview Greg Sparrow, senior vice president and general manager at CompliancePoint about whether or not big data has become the scapegoat.

Q: Can you start by explaining how data mining can be beneficial to companies?

A: Data mining is beneficial to companies because it allows them to better understand their customers and market environment by offering insights into their buyers and potential buyers.  It also allows organizations to spend their marketing dollars in a more focused way giving them a better return on investment.

Q: The public at large is just starting to understand how the data trail they leave online is being used. How is public opinion changing the way businesses think about data.

A: I think the business community is just beginning to become aware of this changing trend within the marketplace and the awareness from the public around their data trail and how it is being used. Direct consumer-facing brands are most sensitive to the change in consumer awareness right now. Companies should be much more mindful of the fact that they need to have appropriate data privacy and security frameworks in place.  Organizations should be spending time and attention focusing on how their customer wants to be engaged and what type of relationship they should have with their brand.

Q: How do regulations like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act fit into the overall picture of big data?

A: State regulations make the regulatory landscape for large national or multinational organizations more complex. Companies must not only deal with these regulations at a regional level, but now they must also address them at the local state level. In the long run, it would be best to have a standardized Federal Regulation that applies to all companies handling and processing personal information, thus simplifying and standardizing the regulatory landscape.

Q: How can companies change the way they use data to respect privacy concerns? 

A: This starts with understanding their customers and what the customers expect. Once the organization understands this, they should look to implement a privacy framework and a data security framework that helps meet the customer’s needs and expectations.

Q: How can they future-proof their data strategies so they aren't blind-sided by data privacy laws to come? 

A: Organizations handling large amounts of data or where data processing is part of their core business should look to reframe the discussion around how to be good data stewards within their respective business function. Many organizations simply ask can they do something with the data but don't think about whether they should. Companies would do well to spend more time focused on whether they should do something with these large data sets.

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