Transparency is key for data-dependent businesses

Security will always be on the minds of consumers but businesses must do what they can to minimise the fears

Data is everywhere in the modern business landscape – companies of all sizes are using it to drive both minor and major decisions. Advocates of this ‘big data’ shift say that sizeable and complex caches of information give organisations the chance to better target their customers with personal messaging, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach.

Taking advantage of this trend is perhaps a little easier said than done, however. It’s far from just a case of collecting as much data as possible – it has to the right data and it has to be used in the right ways by the right people.

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns for any company hoping to boost its fortunes with the help of insight; consumers will always be sensitive when it comes to their personal information and the ways in which it is being used. The best solution isn’t, however, to act covertly and secretive.

The most obvious reason for using data to inspire business decisions is to provide a better overall service and improve satisfaction levels. Customers certainly won’t be against this; they’re as fed up of receiving irrelevant and poorly targeted messages as anyone. It’s not crazy to suggest that most consumers would be happy for brands to learn more about them if they’re made aware of exactly how the information will be used.

At present, many companies are treading on the legal fence by expecting website visitors to opt out of personal data collection. This isn’t always obvious to the user, and when the ball does eventually drop, trust will be the first thing to break. Transparency has to be the way forward if data-reliant organisations are to ever ease consumers’ security-related concerns.