Personal data trends in Deloitte Data Nation surveys

Over the last three years, Deloitte has conducted its Data Nation survey, which aims to “measure the public’s attitudes to data use and privacy in England, Wales and Scotland”. It’s a really useful way of observing people’s changing attitudes towards the use by themselves and others of their personal data. Mydex CIC has charted these changes to reveal the trends and opportunities that they present.

During the time frame, we have seen the personal data landscape change significantly. There has been increasing public discussion about data and control fuelled by high profile cases of data leaks, the Snowden revelations, as well as an explosion of services in a variety of markets (messaging apps, cloud storage, personal information management) touting data privacy and management as a top feature.

As the reports observe it’s often left to consumers to discern exactly what is happening to their data. They can feel deceived or in the dark about the data sharing policies of organisations they interact with on a daily basis, and call for greater insight and transparency. This is expressed right from the first Data Nation report. Brands are starting to respond, recognising that building trust in the way they manage personal data is becoming a critical strategic and marketing issue.

Something’s not right

The 2012 report points to the ever-diverging difference in perspective between organisation and individual in terms of use of personal data, stating that the “research points towards a widening gap between what organisations want to do with data and what their customers want to be done with it” (p.2). The main desire from the individual was to be asked whether or not they wanted to ‘opt-in’ to the sharing and use of their data, rather than having to ‘opt-out’ at a later stage or not having the choice at all. A number of those asked also said they “would like a dedicated information charter so they know how their data is being used. As well as taking steps to protect their data, citizens and customers want to be able to make an informed choice” (p.11).

This infographic from the paper shows the (overwhelmingly negative) response from consumers to the use of their data by companies and service providers:

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Time for ground-up, baked in transparency and control

In the 2013 report, consumers begin to become aware that they can get something in return for sharing their data, while organisations sense the power of a holistic view of their customer. The report observes that “with more granular data, they can learn whether those customers are likely to respond positively or negatively to targeted marketing offers or other types of contact“ (p.8). The report identifies the power of personal data to unlock sustained engagement with a customer, but points out that this needs to be as part of a long-term commitment to correct use of personal data: “Rather than remaining as the ‘small print’ to be accepted the first time a customer uses a digital service, the information given in these policies should be an integral part of a more transparent and ongoing customer engagement approach” (p.6).

Interestingly, the 2013 report also indicates that the level of awareness about collection and use of personal data increases with age. This, a perhaps unexpected statistic, points to the level of comfort young people have when using personal-data based online services. Unfortunately, this often goes hand in hand with a lack of caution, and by proxy organisations’ responsibility to create frameworks that from the ground up protect their customers’ personal data and empower them to use it as they want to.

This graphic from the 2013 paper indicates just how big an effect a users’ confidence in an organisation’s personal data policy can have on their other interactions with the same company:

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Measurable benefits and valuable engagement

What comes to the fore in the 2014 report is a readiness and willingness by consumers to not just have privacy and knowledge of what is happening to their data, but to use their data to make choices and decisions for the future.

According to the report, “if organisations make it easier to manage personal data, 49 percent of consumers say they are likely to use the data to make better decisions and 59 percent would update personal data held by a company and keep it up to date” (p.4). They are happy to share data and even perhaps volunteer more data if it provides a benefit. Indeed “this year’s survey shows that nearly two thirds of consumers (64 percent) either don’t mind or are happy to share their personal information if it leads to direct benefits in the form of financial savings, product or service improvements, guidance to meet personal goals, or receiving a personalised product or service” (p.10).

Plugging in the individual

There is a huge opportunity for organisations to provide real-time, close engagement with their customers and new innovative value-adding services based on personal data that enable people to make decisions about their lives. To do this in a truly customer-centric way, Mydex CIC believes that this is only achievable with the individual in control of the data sharing process, aware of exactly what is happening to the data and what benefit they are gaining from it. As the report states, “customers and citizens engaged under these principles [transparency, personalised benefits and control] are more likely to engage with and have confidence in the organisation, to get more value out of their relationship, and to be more valuable to the organisation” (p.17).

The key message here is that “product innovation, value for money, quality, service offerings and convenience remain vital elements of a proposition that now must include trust in the way that personal data is handled and the motives for its use.“ (p.17)

The infographics below, from the 2014 report, illustrate the important shift towards customer engagement and mutual benefit:

People in age group diagram relating to benefits P11
The best diagram for us P17

There have been other recent reports in which very similar findings about personal data were expressed. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills of the British government recently posted the policy paper The UK Vision for the EU’s Digital Economy directed at organisations. The paper states that “we need to be prepared for the next evolution in the digital economy, which will be driven by consumers making choices about how to use their own data”, and that “consumers must be able to exert better control over their data and should be aware of how it will be used by businesses” (1.4).

Not only this, this paper goes on to advocate the existence of trust frameworks and building blocks for a ground-up approach to ensuring transparency and protection of personal data: “consumers need a data protection framework they can trust if they are to be willing for their data to be used to unlock new and better services” (1.4). It highlights the need for personal control over personal data to be something that is inherent, not opt-in or campaigned for after a leak or misuse: “they [consumers] should be given confidence that their rights will be protected and their data used in a responsible and transparent way, on the basis of informed consent” (1.4).

Mydex CIC is a key enabler

Mydex CIC is pleased to see how quickly the discussion about personal data has moved from basic privacy to informed choice, engagement and benefit. We are excited to be a building block in providing individuals with more agency, helping them to trust organisations in the use of their data and vice versa. For organisations, the Mydex Platform is the ideal innovative enabler for brands to start this new, valuable relationship with their customers, an opportunity which all the evidence suggests is not to be missed. As the 2014 Data Nation report highlights on page 17, “privacy […] has the potential to be a transformative market force.”