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What does leadership in the new economy look like?

Posted on: Monday 4th of July 2016

What does it take to make a sustainable, trust-based, innovative data driven economy? Two things stuck out from our (Ctrl-Shift’s)recent global consultation exercise for Facebook on this subject, launched in Amsterdam two weeks ago.

The first is that trade-off thinking – “you can’t have both privacy which protects consumers’ data and innovation which uses it, so you have to sacrifice one for the other” – simply isn’t a viable, sustainable way forward. All it does is exacerbate tensions which undermine both.

The second is a common consensus that ‘big business’ has failed to pick this challenge up and run with it. From Sao Paulo to San Francisco, Berlin to Buenos Aires, Warsaw to Hong Kong to New York; from innovators to privacy advocates, policy makers to academic experts, technologists to legal eagles, we heard the same basic refrain. Right now in the personal data economy, there is a leadership gap that business needs to fill.


Designing for trust

If this is the case, what should businesses do? Does it really matter if customers don’t trust us with their data? What do we actually lose in terms of potential customers who don’t show up at our door choosing to take their business elsewhere, who choose not to use services and apps, who dirty their data, opt out or deny permissions, or just go dark? What are the opportunities lost, for example, if we can’t access or use customer data to innovate around new Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) which depend on trusted data sharing?

And if we do accept that trust around data is now a strategic must, what are the design principles we need to adopt, and how do we ensure their consistent implementation and application across all customer touchpoints?

This is one important challenge now exercising many companies, where decisions made now could affect their brand and corporate fortunes for years to come.


Demonstrating leadership

But there’s another question many more far-sighted companies are asking in addition. It’s this. Even if we get our own house perfectly in order, is this enough? Can we really fully realise the potential benefits of the personal data economy if the general operating environment – the ‘climate’ – is negative, with high degrees of suspicion/hostility amongst consumers, opinion formers, policy makers and regulators?

If the answer is “No. We need positive climate change too” how are businesses supposed to respond? Can and should companies get together and cooperate to help  generate positive climate change? What would they need to do to be successful? Who should be involved and how would they work together? What are the potential benefits, risks and pitfalls of such an undertaking and how would we measure them?

Right now we’re immersed in projects deigned to answer these questions, which will feature high on the agenda of our September 29 London conference on Achieving Growth Through Trust. We will have lots to report on, and debate, by then. To join leaders and pioneers of the new personal data economy sign up here.