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Achieving growth through trust

Posted on: Monday 7th of September 2015

Next week we formally announce our 2015 Personal Information Economy conference (hold the date: London, December 8). The theme of  PIE 2015 is Growth Through Trust.

We chose this theme of Growth Through Trust for a simple reason. There’s been a huge amount of debate over the past few years about the potential business, consumer, economic and social benefits of using personal data in new ways. But much of this debate has drawn on a false premise: the assumption that there is a supposed trade off between ‘privacy’ (where organisations don’t have access to the data they need to innovate and grow) versus ‘growth’ (where they do).

We believe the opposite is true. Only if individuals feel safe sharing data with other parties, and get genuine value from doing so, will data sharing happen at scale, on a sustainable basis. The only strategic way forward is Growth Through Trust.

Our conference will move this debate forward in two ways.

Trust: Obvious and big . . .

First, for consumer-facing brands, how they treat the data they collect about customers is becoming a strategic issue.

The reason is simple. When consumers trust a brand around data they are more willing to give permission for data to be collected and used, and more willing to volunteer additional information. When they don’t trust the company, costs and waste rise and opportunities are closed down as customers start ‘going dark’.

The high trust road creates the ability to access more data at lower cost. The low trust road points to restricted data access, higher costs and heightened reputational risk from hostile press coverage and/or regulatory scrutiny.

There’s a growing amount of data on this. For example, recent Ctrl-Shift research showed 37% of consumers not installing or uninstalling apps or software because of concerns about their data, with 21% of consumers abandoning online purchases because of concerns about how the company might use their data. Take-up of ad blockers is accelerating (reaching around 20% of UK consumers so far) and a growing proportion of consumers are deliberately ‘dirtying’ their data (telling lies to companies). According to recent research by GB Group 81% of 18-24 year olds admit they routinely provide false information when asked for personal details.

So the real question for brands now is not so much why we need to build trust around data but how. Is it just a matter of keeping data secure and complying with regulations? If not, what else do brands need to do? What are the data policies and practices that build positive trust? How should they be communicated? Using what governance processes? With what user experience? And who should be making these decisions? Compliance officers? Or the CEO and board?

It’s these ‘how’ questions that we’ll explore at our conference, drawing on learnings from brands and practitioners that are leading the way.

Growth: Not-so-obvious . . . and very big

Second, from Ctrl-Shift’s perspective trust in business-as-usual operations is just the beginning, a springboard for something much, much bigger.

Data doesn’t just have value to the organisations that collect it. It is also fast becoming a personal resource; something individuals (consumers, customers, citizens) use to make better decisions and manage their lives better.

Seeing the potential of data through this lens opens up a new continent of opportunities for these completely new types of consumer service. These new Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) are opening up new revenue streams and new brand positionings and driving the development of new skills and capabilities that are helping organisations gain competitive advantage and position themselves strategically for the digital age.

This is the real opportunity. It’s not just about making ‘business as usual’ work a little better. It’s about creating a new growth industry. And again, the real question is not so much ‘why’ but ‘how’. Our conference will be choc-full of examples and case studies from many different industries (financial services, retail, media, advertising etc) that are developing these new, transformational consumer information services, clarifying what technologies and infrastructure they need, what consumers really want from these services and what the new business models look like.

The conference is your chance to learn from, be inspired by, and share notes with pioneers and practitioners who are successfully seizing the personal information economy opportunity. So watch out for the announcement. We look forward to seeing you there.