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Trusted data relationships – a C-suite issue

Posted on: Friday 10th of January 2014

One of the first pieces of research we did at Ctrl-Shift was into what we called VPI – Volunteered Personal Information. It was based on a seminal insight that in a digital world where individuals have some degree of choice over the amount of information they share with organisations, willingness to share such information becomes critical to competitive advantage for any organisation where access to personal data is essential.

Where individuals don’t trust an organisation or don’t see value in sharing information with it they will ‘go dark’, choosing not to disclose information which they could or, if forced to disclose, providing only the absolute minimum or even entering false data.

Where individuals trust the organisation and see value in sharing additional information (because it’s part of a value-added information service for example), organisations will be rewarded with richer, more rounded, more complete, accurate and up-to-date data sets built and managed at lower cost – a clear advantage over the competition.

Our conclusion was obvious. Every customer-facing organisation needs to develop a VPI strategy which identifies what key bits of data add most value, what mechanisms are best used to elicit this data, and what the ‘deal’ surrounding this data (trust, terms and conditions, value) should be.

Slowly, this message is beginning to sink in. At the end of 2013 Boston Consulting Group produced research across 12 countries asking the extent to which consumers agree with the statement “If I had the ability to prevent the harmful use of data, I would be more willing to let companies use data about me”. It finds that those who win consumer trust “can increase the amount of data they can access by at least five to ten times in most countries”.

Access to this newly available data “could shift market shares and accelerate innovation” delivering competitive advantage.

A C-suite issue

The BCG report concludes that the whole issue of the data relationship with customers needs to “rest within the C-suite, rather than being relegated to the legal or public-policy department under the guise of privacy or lobbying”.

That’s our view entirely. VPI is one of the driving forces of the emerging personal information economy which is based on, and driven by, trusted data sharing between individuals and the organisations they choose to do business with. The C-suite needs to get its head around the challenge – and the opportunity.

That’s what our March 20 conference – The Personal Information Economy 2014 – is all about. It brings together the key parties shaping the evolution of this market and will unveil new research into both the size of the prize and changing consumer attitudes and behaviours.  You can find out more about the event here.