The Iraq war and “weapons of mass destruction”; MPs and their expenses; bankers and their bonuses; HMRC losing personal details on 25 million subjects are just some examples. There are many others across all public and private sector organisations and we continue to see headlines concerning data loss and misuse every day.
Success in business depends on trust. Nowhere is this truer than with data and marketing and the delicate balance of trust we hold with our customers. Companies need to ensure all data is managed securely, protected from dishonest and negligent staff, from zealous competitors, and of course, that it complies with all data regulation.
Consumers rely on private and public sector organisations to hold their personal details securely and to use their data as they would wish. Strong trust in data management is essential for all parties. It can be built on a platform of rigorous data governance and privacy protection comprising clear objectives, detailed strategy, effective policies and processes, regular assessments and rigorous checks. This requires significant investment and strong commitment throughout an organisation, led from the top.
Hence the IDM Data Council was delighted with the ICO report, “The Privacy Dividend: The Business Case for Investing in Proactive Privacy Protection”. This major report, commissioned at a cost of some £50,000, provides organisations free of charge with a financial case for investing in data protection best practice.
The report explains how to put a value on personal information and assess the benefits of protecting privacy. Importantly, it goes beyond the normal platitudes and includes practical tools to help organisations of all sizes and from all sectors prepare a business case for investing in privacy protection. It includes guidance on the steps involved in a privacy protection scheme and shows how to assess the costs and benefits. It provides a method for creating the business case for implementing a new system or changing an existing system, with calculation sheets to assess the value of personal information and so put figures to the business case.
The new Information Commissioner Christopher Graham explains in the associated press release that, “no organisation can neglect to protect people’s privacy. Not only is it the law, but there is also a hard headed business imperative. This report provides organisations with the tools to produce a financial business case for data protection, ensuring privacy protection is hardwired into organisational culture and governance.”
The IDM Data Council strongly supports this worthy initiative, which can be applied to any investment in data assets. We believe protecting people’s privacy is the cornerstone of building trust in data management and marketing. Every organisation that achieves this with its customers can expect a very significant return.
By Adrian Gregory, chairman, IDM Data Council, and chief executive, DQM Group.