Your Big Data Responsibility: The Rise In Data Ethics
By Christian Ofori-Boateng
Co-Founder & Chief Executive at ChristianSteven Software, a report automation and business intelligence software company.
Every business manager and marketing pro understands the importance and power of understanding what drives their customers and prospects, seeing big data as the key that opens that treasure chest.
What is sometimes lost in the larger picture of effective marketing is the actual consumer. Intuitively, most customers and prospects can sniff out businesses looking for sales instead of learning what the client desires and meeting their wants and wishes. And when business interests prevail over customer needs, all the big data manipulation in the world won’t sway those valued prospects and customers into doling out more funds or private information.
This is where the demand for data ethics comes into play.
Integrating Data Ethics With Data Collection
Consumers are not idiots. They understand the value of their personal data and appreciate the judicious use of their private information when it serves their interests and needs. Many people are even delighted by the idea that proper data analytics can uncover hidden desires and motivations. Such people see the beneficial power of data analytics when properly applied, creating new discoveries and experiences not previously or consciously realized.
People recognize that businesses need to turn a profit, which occurs through interactions with the public. Most people also subconsciously want their preferred businesses to profit when they buy from them because a profitable company can sustain itself to serve the public on into the future. Most importantly, the customer is valued because of the profits they deliver to the company. Since every consumer wants to be appreciated by the businesses they patronize, this creates an ideal win-win scenario in which both businesses and their patrons thrive.
Fortunately for businesses, consumers are generally trusting…until, that is, the company takes an action that proves itself unworthy of the trust of existing customers and possible new clients. When your customers believe you work ethically, honestly and transparently with them, you build fierce loyalty, which translates to continued interactions and profits. You literally cannot buy such clients with money, but you can endear them for life with proper data ethics.
Six Methods That Incorporate Data Ethics In Your Business
1. Inform and consent: Even when it appears obvious, be certain to inform your clients and prospects whenever you are collecting their personal data. However, it is no longer enough to tell people their data is being collected; you should also be eager to share precisely how that data is to be used, preferably explaining it positively to motivate those people to readily reveal accurate information.
Explanation of the intended use of their data is just the first of two steps. Be certain you also obtain clear consent from each person, acknowledging their understanding and acceptance of the data they share.
2. Privacy and protection: While it’s comforting to ensure your clients that their data will remain private, all too often an unexpected data breach eliminates the sense of security your customers and prospects felt. And it logically follows that their sense of trust in your competence drops significantly from such a mishap.
If a breach does occur, take immediate action by communicating with all affected parties. Accompanying this notification should be an announcement of the protective measures taken to ensure such an occurrence is a one-time situation. What’s most important, though, is demonstrating the security measures in place to protect all exposed data.
3. Two-way transparency: Companies expect transparency of their clients and prospects. Without such clarity, businesses would remain in the dark and be unable to serve their customers effectively. And you already know how powerful accurate data collection and analysis can be toward converting shoppers into buyers.
Now it’s your turn to give back through transparent communications and use of their data. Not only should you reveal how their data is used to better meet their needs and desires, but do not hesitate to disclose any financial transactions that resulted from the use of their data (such as selling off mailing lists). Ideally, offer your clients and prospects the opportunity to opt out of any use of their data with which they are not comfortable.
4. Respect the rules: In this global marketplace, you have the entire world in front of you as prospects or customers. Because your doors are open to people in every nation where there is the internet, you must also be aware of and adhere to local or national laws concerning data collection and protection of their citizens. Two prime examples of key data protection laws are EU-US Privacy Shield and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Just as you abide by the regulations and laws in the country where your business is established and operates, so must you also respect and follow the rules of any nation where you have customers or prospects providing personal and private data.
5. Privacy by design: With the growing awareness of the need for privacy, many firms are proactively adopting the Privacy by Design framework and incorporating intended ethical values during the planning and development stage of any platform or solution utilizing data. This type of preplanning implements data ethics into any solution at the time of creation rather than attempting to modify and insert it at a later date.
6. Algorithm evaluation and auditing: You can’t trust everything to AI. It is limited to the data that is input, developing algorithms accordingly. Thanks to human interference and inaccurate or irrelevant data, you could end up with some rather limited algorithms that do not effectively reach or serve your market base.
For example, when Amazon used AI for recruiting new developers and other techies, it later realized the algorithm was filtering out women in favor of men.
Most important of all is integrating the concept of data ethics within the minds of business owners and executives. Once viewed as the ideal method for obtaining and maximizing the benefits of big data, your team will be on board with the concept. And that is the first important step to satisfying the growing demand for data ethics.
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