When privacy and compliance collide with the need for speedy access to data


More than ever, speed kills.

Don’t believe me? Consider the following:

  • There’s an entire science devoted to the study of speed.
  • Network effects mean that organizations – particularly startups – need to embrace first-mover advantage or wind up as also-rans.
  • The rate of technology adoption has been increasing for years.

In this two-part series, I'll look at how the need for speed affects organizations' privacy and compliance efforts. Today I'll frame the problem.

An inherent tension

I'll be the first to admit that there's an inherent tension among speed, compliance, privacy and trust. After all, it often takes time to obtain permission to do things with customer, user and employee data. Many not-so-patient types understandably view this investment as wasted time. This is time that could – nay, should – be spent refining an existing product or service or launching a new one.

online shopper expecting privacy, security and speedBut trust doesn't happen overnight. Look at Amazon, a company that has engendered remarkable loyalty among its customers since its inception more than two decades ago. Even if I experience a problem with one of my weekly Amazon orders, the company resolves it quickly and fairly. Put differently, I can't remember the last time that Jeff Bezos' company angered me.

And that widespread trust allows Amazon to move quickly. Case in point: the Amazon Echo. The device "lives" inside your home and represents a different type of interface: voice. (Whether voice is the next "platform" is anyone's guess.) Consumers ask Echo questions and access an increasing array of services and features.

Analysts expect sales to reach 5 million units within two years. In effect, Amazon created an entire product category with imitators such as Google and Apple launching or reportedly working on their own me-too devices.

But here's the noteworthy part: Amazon has rarely aroused privacy concerns, and the Echo is no exception. Think about that for a moment. A smart digital assistant that accurately captures – and makes recommendations based upon valuable product and personal data and metadata – hasn't raised the ire of privacy advocates. No alarm bells. Just sales and fantastic reviews.

Simon Says: Learn from Amazon.

Sure, it's easier said than done, but organizations can learn quite a bit from Amazon when it comes to resolving the tension among speed, privacy and trust. By building a long-term bond with its customers, Amazon can do things that many companies simply cannot. It can act fast and take major risks with minimal reputational damage.


Can you say the same about your organization?

 In the second part of this post, I'll discuss some specific considerations around privacy, compliance, speed and data access.

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 eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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