Data security: point of no return?

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If you missed it, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a 110-page report yesterday that calls upon Congress to strengthen data rules regarding consumer information. Yet the real question may be, is this clarion call occurring far too late in a business world that seems increasingly reliant upon “Big Data” and the insights “data mining” potentially provides?

For example, a new study by global consulting firm Accenture found 80% of consumers aged 20 to 40 in the U.S. and the U.K. believe total privacy in the digital world is “a thing of the past,” with 64%  are concerned about websites tracking their buying behavior.

While that “website tracking” worry is down from 85% in Accenture’s 2012 survey, the simple fact remains that a majority of a demographic whom I’d term “younger folks” are none-too-happy about how exposed their personal data can be – and these are folks most comfortable with all the newfangled technology available in this supposedly “digital age.”

Though Accenture focused on consumers and their data-privacy issues in its survey, the trucking industry should pay attention simply because cyber security remains an ongoing concern – and there are cases where the use of a carrier’s “personal information” in the freight world, such as DOT numbers, is being hijacked by cargo thieves to commit crimes, something you can read more about by clicking here.

So let’s get back to Accenture’s survey, conducted by research firm Coleman Parkes online in March and April this year with 2,012 consumers (with 1,000 of them from the U.S. and 1,012 in the U.K.) split equally between males and females between 20 and 40 years of age taking note of income, ethnicity and socio-demographics.

Accenture’s poll found that despite the “willingness” on the part of most consumers to share personal information to get a “good deal” (indeed, 49% said they would not object to having their buying behavior tracked if it would result in relevant offers from brands and suppliers) most remain very cautious about the use of their personal information:

  • The majority of respondents – some 87% – believe adequate safeguards are not in place to protect their personal information.
  • More than half (56%) say they are trying to safeguard their privacy by inputting their credit card information each time they make an online purchase rather than having that data stored for future use. 
  • About 70% of respondents believe businesses aren't transparent about how their information is being used, and 68% say there is not enough transparency around what is being done with their information. 
  • A large number of respondents – about 40% – believe only 10% of their personal data is actually private.
  • Although 42% believe vendors and suppliers are using their personal data in order to provide them with more relevant offers, 39% believe their data is being sold.

"In today's digital age where consumers are connected and empowered and data is abundant, businesses must align their organizations, technology and strategies to deliver relevant and loyalty-enabling experiences to their consumers," noted Glen Hartman, global managing director of digital transformation for Accenture Interactive.

“When pursuing [a] seamless customer experience, businesses must balance the need for security and data privacy with the desire to provide an exceptional customer experience,” he added.

Indeed, as if to accentuate the growing role technology will play in the business world down the pike – especially where transportation is concerned – Accenture’s survey determined that consumers in the 20-40 age groups are “ubiquitous” users of digital technology across multiple mobile platforms.

Respondents in the main said they owned between three and four digital devices per person, on average, with 27% owning more than four devices.  They also spend an average of six to six and a half hours per day using a digital device for personal activities including messaging/texting (48%), emailing (39%), getting news (27%) and shopping for a product or service online (20%).

Those findings should not only reinforce trucking’s need to understand and integrate technology better into their operations in order to improve customer service but to boost how carriers interact with their own labor force – especially drivers.

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