Recommendations on privacy, data access and compliance

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florist emits trust wtih her customersIn my last post, I discussed how Amazon is able to have its cake and eat it too. The company has managed to resolve the conundrum facing many organizations around privacy, data access, speed and trust.

Of course, few organizations can do what Jeff Bezos' company can. Today I'll cover some privacy and data-access considerations for the non-Amazons of the world.

Without further ado, consider the following truisms.

Remember that trust is an asset.

I'll bet that your company's top brass knows its numbers inside and out. They can list stock price, revenues, market share and the like. But what about trust? Does that – or some variation of it – appear on your organization's balanced scorecard? Why not?

And it is a critical one at that.

I'm hardly to first person to opine that today trust matters more than ever. As Daniel Burrus writes for Wired:

According to a Harris Interactive and TRUSTe study, 84 percent of consumers are less likely to click on an online ad and 74 percent are less likely to enable location tracking (per . In addition, a full 89 percent won’t do business with a company that doesn’t do a good enough job protecting them online. And 76 percent are likely to check websites and apps for a privacy certification seal.

I don't see those numbers dropping anytime soon, especially as media outlets out apps for doing that which they shouldn't with user data.

Trust is a potential point of differentiation.

Apple and Microsoft are wielding privacy as a marketing tool. They recognize that millions of users are comfortable exchanging reduced privacy for free services (e.g., Gmail) and micro-targeted ads (re: Facebook, Google AdWords and Adsense). That mind-set isn't going to go away, but millions of customers understand the value of true data protection and privacy.

Simon Says: Think about the following trust- and privacy-related recommendations.

What does this mean?

  • Remember never to mistake can and should. Just because it's not illegal to grant data access to partners, developers, employees and other third parties does not mean that it's ethical and/or moral, never mind good business.
  • Adhere to general principles more than a laundry list of specific rules. Dov Seidman makes this compelling argument in his excellent book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything.
  • Routinely evaluate what you're doing and why. I've seen a few organizations lose their way because their senior management never asked critical high-level questions related to privacy, trust and fairness. That is, individual policies and actions made sense in isolation but the totality of these actions belied organizations' original intent.

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About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of seven management books, most recently Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It. He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured on The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. In the fall of 2016, he joined the faculty at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business (Department of Information Systems).

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