It’s not just brands that have a responsibility to ensure data transparency, consumers need to step up too

Data is the currency that will determine the success of your brand. Consumers need to wake up to the implications of this.

Jonathan Earle

The battle for customer data is a molten hot issue and getting hotter. More and more brands are wanting not just to access your photos, your location and the contacts on your smartphone but try and work out whether you are stationery, walking, exercising, driving and how much time you have on your hands.

Connected products are becoming more intelligent and more common (Gartner predicts c.25bn connected devices by 2020 but frankly, make your own number up and square it and then again and again…)

And with them data is being presented and gratefully captured by brands. Brands are gearing up with the key role being recruited for at the moment being data scientists – the people able to triangulate key data sources to help personalise future offers and extend brand relationships.

Data is the currency that will determine whether your company flourishes or falls by the wayside. It’s also about time that we as end users woke up to this too.

Spotify is the latest brand to change its Terms & Conditions and on the back of it received a significant backlash. Headlines included “Spotify boss sorry for ‘creepy’ privacy rules”. The issue is that it said it will share the information it has collected with its commercial partners (aka advertisers).

This led to a blog from CEO Daniel Elk titled ‘Sorry’ where he admitted that “Spotify should have done a better job in communicating what these policies mean’”.

The thrust of the apology was that no information would be used without the express consent of its customers — and herein lies the issue for me – customer consent.

Many companies believe they have consent but in reality customers are mainly unawares of what they are consenting to. The lack of awareness that many of us have as to the amount of information we are all giving companies every day of the week is worrying.

I attended a DMA conference last year where research was revealed showing 50% of people believed that they did not share any information with 3rd parties. When asked whether they then used Google Chrome as their browser; were on Facebook; used Linkedin and Instagram, the vast majority all said yes.

Should Spotify have clearer Terms & Conditions about how the data it collects gets used? Of course. Should there be explicit consent from its customers – without doubt. However, be under no illusion, big data is the way all businesses are looking to compete. Data is the most priceless asset any business can have.

Some consumers are on top of this and understand the value exchange that needs to happen for them to be comfortable sharing. Its about time, however, that all of us actually become a little bit more data savvy and start fighting back if we are unhappy about how our data is being used.

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