Nearly every week, we read stories about how organizations are using consumer data, from ad targeting and personalization, to product development, risk management and beyond. As a result, information about individuals’ attitudes, behaviors, personal attributes and even location continues to proliferate, driven by the Internet, networked devices and social media. But how do consumers actually feel about this?

There is a gathering body of evidence that strongly suggests the way organizations use data is affecting consumer trust, and that trust plays a major role in brand reputation and business performance. As a result, chief executives who wish to sustain the trust of their customers and constituents must take a hard look at how their organizations collect and use customer data, and the effect of those practices on customer relationships, reputation, risk and revenue.

And, while ethical data use is a fraught issue today, it will be even more so in the near future. As predictive analytics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence move into the mainstream, the implications (and capabilities) of data use will become even more urgent and complex. We no longer live in a world where privacy is binary; it’s as contextual and fluid as the networks, services and devices we use, and the ways in which we use them.

Businesses who intend to succeed must approach data as a fundamental element of brand strategy, with the customer at the center. Opaque, pro forma terms of service do not suffice. The data and process issues may be complex, but the fundamental principles that govern trustworthy behavior—sustainability, respect for the user, and so forth—are not.

In this report, you will learn:

  • Key drivers and principles for ethical data use
  • Emerging best practices
  • A pragmatic framework that organizations can use to earn—and maintain—the trust of customers and consumers

Susan Etlinger

Industry Analyst