Monetizing data while respecting privacy: How data-use governance can unlock business value and mitigate risk

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August 2016


In the global digital economy, companies everywhere face a growing challenge: how to use vast amounts of data about individuals they now gather to create greater value for their business and their customers without crossing the line into unethical, unlawful or unwanted use. For organizations to effectively address this challenge, they need a strong data-use governance framework, as well as an understanding that data-use governance differs from, but is related to, data protection governance and data management governance.

Source: PwC, 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, January 2016

The data-use challenge: Balancing opportunities and risk

According to PwC's Global CEO survey, 68% of CEOs see data and analytics technologies as generating the greatest return for stakeholder engagement.
These are, however, tricky waters to navigate. Using data in innovative ways can have a substantial upside for an organization and its customers —but it also comes with greater risks than ever before.

Seven most common risks:

  • Lack of awareness about data collection and retention activities
  • Data being compromised, stolen or misused
  • Lack of transparency in how data use affects individuals
  • Using data to make decisions that could be perceived as unfair or unethical
  • Making wrong decisions because of “bad” data
  • Failing to comply with increasingly complex global regulations
  • Missing out on opportunities due to an overly cautious approach to data use

Data-use governance maturity spectrum

For companies to effectively balance opportunity and risk, they must develop strategies that facilitate transparency, empowerment, ethical data use, and overall inclusion with a company’s digital customers. But even more important are strong data-use governance capabilities as part of a stronger privacy program. That’s something many companies currently lack and need to build before increasing their use of data.

In some cases, organizations are just now implementing basic privacy practices and capabilities; and in only rare instances have organizations built the right capabilities that enable them to effectively use their data to create business value while safeguarding it from risk. PwC’s data-use governance maturity spectrum illustrates the capabilities and practices that are key to helping companies effectively manage risks and thoroughly leverage the value-creating potential of data use. Where does your organization fall?

Responsible data use in an era of big data

When it comes to data about individuals, companies today have a dual responsibility: to use that data to create more value for the company and its customers; and to do so in the most privacy-centric, ethical, fair, and transparent way possible. Most companies know this. But many have been slow to develop the capabilities that are critical to achieving it. As a result, they are failing to make the most of their data. Perhaps even worse, they could be making themselves vulnerable to questionable data use that puts them in hot water with customers, regulators or legal authorities.

As the opportunities to use data for growth and competitive advantage expand, so do related risks. That’s why a sophisticated approach to data-use governance is no longer an option —it’s a prerequisite for success in today’s global digital economy.

Contact us

Jay Cline

Privacy Leader, Principal, PwC US

Tel: +1 (612) 596 6403

Carolyn Holcomb

Partner, Cybersecurity and Privacy, PwC US

Tel: +1 (678) 419 1696

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