What an age we live in where data and technology are inextricably linked to every aspect of our lives. Our society has become so data-enabled that the thought of ‘turning off the data’ seems preposterous while we shop, get around and share memories. Except that in this same age, increased regulation, consumer awareness and media frenzy have led to a perception that data may in fact be bad for us. For example, consider some consumers who are concerned that voice-controlled assistant technologies listen to their every word. Use of voice-controlled assistants is growing close to 10% year over year, with a third of US consumers already using them regularly. Yet adoption is slowing.
While fear of the unknown is debilitating and potentially dangerous. The reality is that data is neither good nor bad. Like sunlight, we can’t live without it but there are downsides to too much exposure. Finding a balance is all about intent, and good actors will be well-served by adopting the simple mantra “don’t lose it and don’t misuse it.”
The issues of consumer understanding and empowerment are central to many debates. Some voices demand people retain complete control over their data. But as data and technology innovate and grow, so does complexity, and tasking people with responsibility for every aspect of their data-rich lives can be an onerous burden. To help out, the industry needs to bear some of that burden by keeping data safe and using it for good, while also building consumer trust.
As we move further into 2020, we find ourselves at a point that will define the data ecosystem over the next decade. To complement the many reports that quantify consumer attitudes around data and privacy, Acxiom recently completed a qualitative study to find out what consumers really think about data and privacy. By conducting video interviews with individuals across four countries and three continents, our aim was to go beyond stats to understand real fears, misconceptions and concerns. Some would argue that consumers are afraid of businesses using data, but what we’ve found is that they’re mainly afraid of identity theft and hacking. Findings like these allow us to see what real people think, so we can build trust in data, from our strategies through to our everyday interactions with these same people.
We need to use data for good, for the benefit of all. Download Acxiom’s “Understanding Attitudes to Data” Report.
—Jed Mole, CMO, Acxiom