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The data disconnect between businesses and their consumers

Facebook screen grab

In September 2016 The Chartered Institute of Marketing published ‘Whose data is it anyway?’ a report into the use of data for marketing purposes. The most striking result to me was that 68% of consumers do not feel comfortable sharing data from their social media profile while 44% of marketers claim to collect data from social media. Also, just 8% of customers understand how and where organisations use their personal data.

The report’s findings are based on two surveys carried out by The Chartered Institute of Marketing. The first was of 500 marketers in order to understand the current practices around use of data in marketing and the second was of 2240 consumers to quantify the extent to which current practices around use of personal data in marketing are trusted or not.Facebook screen grab

The comparison between the results of the two surveys shows a gap between the consumers (who have increasingly grown cynical about how personal data have been used by companies) and the marketers (who are increasingly devising marketing strategies using personal data).

Such a gap is not surprising: high-profile cases have shown the public that large digital companies may exploit their position and use the personal data they store in ways that are definitely intrusive. In addition, legislation is considered too weak to protect individual consumers from the abuses of large companies with the result that initial enthusiasm has evolved into mistrust and eventually refusal to share personal data with businesses.

On the business side, there are two main reasons why we observe this behaviour. On the one hand, companies are pressurised to jump into data-driven marketing strategies without a clear understanding of the legal framework around the use of personal data. This is particularly true for small companies which tend to lack the resources to create internal competencies around data protection. On the other hand, training in this area is very poor and mostly limited to the opportunities that the technology offers rather than an holistic view of what is possible technologically within the existing legal framework.

At the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre we can arrange training which offers a balanced view of what the technology offers to companies and what is legally possible and ethical. In our face to face training we offer an overview of how personal data can be used but more importantly we educate businesses on how consumers expect their data to be managed. Please view all our current training opportunities and webinars or email us or phone 01206 873859 to discuss your needs further.

Blog post by Professor Vania Sena (Director of the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre), please email us if you have any questions about the contents of this post.

Published 19 December 2016