The amount of data being collected by tech companies is constantly under scrutiny. The general public argues that there’s way too much data being collected, but tech companies argue that without collecting all the data that they do, they can’t improve their processes to cater to its users, they can’t provide whatever information or services that are lacking.
For these reasons, I don’t think we’ll ever have a resolution to this ongoing argument. On one hand, tech companies want as much data as they can get in order to better advertise to us, track traffic patterns, how to keep us on their sites longer and other pertinent information for their success. On the other hand, consumers don’t want their data shared because most of them don’t even understand how data is used or who it’s sold to if it’s even sold at all. There’s basically very little trust between consumers and the tech companies they interact with. Or really any company asking for their personal information and other data.
But data collection is essential for any business to be able to function. Data drives many decisions: “you need to collect enough information to draw conclusions. Consider different data sources. You can start from Google Analytics and then move to tracking user behavior, monitoring social media, asking your customers for insights… The possibilities are endless!”
Once all the data is collected, it needs to be organized, categorized and analyzed. Useful data will be used to help the business start its process, improve the process and hopefully catch any pitfalls before they actually occur. But in order for this to happen—the data needs to be accessible thorough the company and by different departments who would use it in different ways.
Once the data has gone through this process, it can then be used to make decisions about every aspect of the business, it would help the company set the right goals, save time and money and also limit biases. It drives a lot of business strategies and sales improvement processes as well. So while data collection is essential the success of businesses, there is constant resistance to the amount of data being collected and how its used. Some companies have tried to explain how the data they collect is used, but it’s usually in small print buried somewhere under the terms of agreement that no one really reads. And even when they do read it, they may not always make sense of it.
Some argue that there should be a limit on how much data can be collected from consumers or that there should be limits as to how the tech companies could use the data and use it. But there never really seems to be a final consensus. And so this issue continues to come up without a real resolution but at some point, there needs to be a resolution otherwise consumers will continue to lessen the data they share or stop sharing it all together, according to Forbes’ Marty Swant, “the number of people willing to share their home address fell from 41% to 31% from 2018 to 2019, while those willing to share the name of their spouse fell from 41% to 33%. Meanwhile, only 54% said they were willing to share their email address—down from 61% last year.”
They key is to develop consumer trust and keep the consumer openly informed about what data is being collected and why it’s being collected—the consumer needs to understand that their data is being used to improve their processes and their user experience—or whatever else the business is attempting to use the data for. There are, of course, other factors to develop trust, like great customer service (Amazon is a great example of this and according to Columbia University’s research, 57% of the consumers surveyed are open to sharing their data with the e-commerce giant because they view them as a trusted brand).
This issue will continue to come up until there is a resolution and Columbia’s research also shed light on future trends indicating that less consumers will be open to sharing their data due to lack or full loss of trust with businesses. This would negatively impact any businesses so the urgency of finding a resolution is more dire than ever before.
“Data-Driven Business Decisions: How Data Can Impact and Improve Your Processes.” Wake Up Data, 27 Aug. 2019, blog.wakeupdata.com/data-driven-business-decisions-how-data-can-impact-and-improve-your-processes.
Ovide, Shira. “Just Collect Less Data, Period.” NY Times, 16 July 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/technology/just-collect-less-data-period.html?referringSource=articleShare.
Quint, Matthew, and David Rogers. “What Is the Future of Data Sharing?” Columbia Business School, Oct. 2015.
Want, Marty. “People Are Becoming More Reluctant To Share Personal Data, Survey Reveals.” Forbes, 15 Aug. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/martyswant/2019/08/15/people-are-becoming-more-reluctant-to-share-personal-data-survey-reveals/#53a921821ed1.