Based on the headlines frequently appearing the last few years, you know the risk around the mishandling of personal information. When big names like Target and Facebook are in the spotlight for not protecting consumer information, there’s a clear warning to businesses that big data comes with big responsibility.
What if the big data in question isn’t someone’s social security number, credit card number, or cell phone number? What if it’s their behaviors and preferences? Some experts are taking a harder look at the responsibility that comes with accessing big data.
Getting too personal? You might be following Amazon’s lead, learning to personalize your customers’ experiences with recommendations based on their browsing histories or an email newsletter that is tailored to precisely where a lead is in the buy cycle. This valuable insight into a customer’s behaviors can help you grow your sales and give them a satisfying experience with your company. After all, it can be rewarding when a company seems to know what you need before you know you need it.
Sometimes big data insights go beyond this. For instance, there may be situations in which you’re using data to predict a customer’s behaviors in the future. It gets a bit tricky when, instead of anticipating a need and supplying a suggestion, the customer instead is being compelled into a purchase they wouldn’t otherwise make.
When data is no longer under your control: The ethics of big data can become even more questionable if the data is being accessed by parties other than your own company. For instance, if a third-party business partner has access to your data and uses it to market to your customers, are you responsible for the ways in which they communicate?
Another area where big data ethics can become challenging to define is in the area of artificial intelligence. If bots are compiling data, they can reach a point where they know more about your customers than your customers know about themselves. For instance, if they tend to use certain words in contacting customer service, a customer service agent won’t likely pick up on it, but a bot certainly would. The customer may be approached a certain way with messaging from the company based on the words they favor in an email or SMS message, unknowingly casting themselves into a certain target audience for the company’s automated messaging service.
A lack of regulation: Part of the issue is that there’s not much in terms of regulation for big data, unless it’s in areas like your health or finances. Much of your information is available and can be transferred to another company without your permission or knowledge.
You can expect that companies will be increasingly wrestling with their ethical responsibility in terms of big data. Whether it’s your social security number or your browsing habits, don’t you have an expectation of some level of control over your information? It’s likely that companies and individuals alike will be discussing where that level is.
To learn more about big data ethics and how they may shape your business processes, contact us at AMD Communications. From leveraging the best data storage solutions to handling data security, we can help you navigate the intricacies of big data.