Consumers want a highly personalized, omnichannel, authentic, engaging experience — delivered in real time. Technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) companies using consumer data to develop and deliver products or services can provide that experience — while also respecting consumer expectations for privacy and complying with fast-changing regulations.
The result will not only make compliance more proactive and cost-effective, it will also enhance access to ever-more refined data for ultra-personalized products, services and experiences. Nurture trust by providing the privacy experience consumers want.
TMT companies have historically minimized privacy communication with consumers, believing it could complicate the relationship while offering little upside in return. However, the vast majority of consumers — 70% — say the benefits of sharing their data outweigh the risks, according to PwC research. The benefits they seek include a highly personalized, omnichannel, authentic, engaging consumer experience delivered in real time.
And while a scant one-third of consumers tell us they’re willing to share more data for a more personalized experience, that finding serves to reinforce the opportunity for TMT companies to educate consumers about what they will receive in return for sharing their data.
Carefully consider the overall consumer privacy experience that you will offer (or help your business clients offer their customers) in exchange for consumer data and then communicate the value of that experience. Begin by determining consumer preferences, the data you have and the data you need. Next, choose and implement the privacy stance that matches the type of consumer privacy experience you want to provide.
Ultimately, four forces are at play: regulatory compliance, consumer preferences, enterprise readiness, and products, services and capabilities. Let’s look at how each of these forces plays a role as companies work to provide the optimal consumer privacy experience.
TMT companies — both B2B and B2C — are encountering privacy fatigue as they face a myriad of potential privacy risks. They’re concurrently addressing evolving consumer privacy preferences as well as a raft of regulations across multiple jurisdictions. They’re also navigating shifts in industry practices, such as the move toward first-party data. Adapting to this ever-changing environment requires substantial funding, human capital and executive attention — creating friction with business goals.
Meanwhile, regulations increasingly require companies to give consumers more choice and control over their data. In the wake of COVID-19, TMT companies have become increasingly more essential to the day-to-day lives of consumers. As more scrutiny follows, even more privacy challenges are likely to arise.
Rather than reacting to each privacy challenge as it emerges, we recommend proactively determining and creating the privacy experience that consumers want in accordance with the regulatory environment, the needs of the business and your own capabilities. The result will help safeguard speed-to-market, enable expansion into new regulatory jurisdictions, reduce compliance costs and increase confidence in compliance.
For many TMT companies, whether or not they brand themselves as privacy leaders, this focus on consumer privacy preferences also offers a competitive differentiator. Almost 85% of consumers told PwC they want more control over their own data. And more than 80% said that they would willingly share data with a company they trust.
Meanwhile, TMT companies are seeking direct customer relationships to replace third-party data. They’re also building new business models based on ultra-customized products, services and experiences — eventually targeting a segment of one. In this context, greater access to data will be critical for business growth.
Adults ages 18-34 spend more time today streaming TV than watching traditional TV. Streaming platforms need to take a streamer-first approach to product design for optimal content, consumer and advertiser experiences.
Start with consumer experience. That’s the approach to privacy TMT companies are well-advised to adopt, whether their relationships with consumers are direct — or indirect in the case of B2B companies.
Consumers have already spoken. They want a highly personalized, omnichannel, authentic, engaging consumer experience delivered in real time. Build on that initial feedback by seeking out the voice of the consumer via surveys, focus groups, co-innovation and A/B testing for privacy controls, data-for-value exchanges and more. B2B companies should consult with their clients on consumer preference.
With consumer preferences for experience front and center, new metrics can precisely define how best to meet that preference — matching a company’s capabilities and strategic goals with what consumers want.
Data crosses boundaries. A single consumer might share data via multiple devices or services or apps with multiple subsidiaries of a single organization. For your privacy program to enhance the consumer experience, your company will need a complete data inventory, one that follows the consumer journey across every touchpoint where companies collect data, including both digital and physical, to uncover where and how they interact with a company.
Assess the different data functions of the enterprise: acquiring, storing, governing, using and protecting data. Then identify and close gaps in the data and data governance to provide the optimal consumer experience. Also consider the impact of new internal and external privacy challenges on your access to data.
Apple, for example, recently advanced further in the consumer-first approach to privacy by offering consumers the option to withdraw permission for apps to track them. When Apple made this change, was your access to data affected? Similarly, if new regulations require consumers to explicitly opt in to share location and other data, will you be ready?
With consumer preferences front and center as well as a holistic view of your data (and accompanying vulnerabilities), it’s time to make a strategic choice. Determine which privacy stance will provide the optimal consumer privacy experience — one that satisfies customers, supports your data strategies, aligns with your enterprise readiness and provides cost-effective compliance.
Reactive compliance, which relies on point solutions that fulfill baseline regulatory requirements, is a common choice today — but it’s expensive in both financial and human resources because it tends to be iterative in response to regulation. It also causes friction with the business, which must continually change its data strategy.
Agile privacy practices, in contrast, create privacy platforms to enable compliance that complements the needs of the business. Privacy platforms also offer easy-to-navigate, easy-to-understand privacy experiences that make consumers more likely to share data.
Companies striving for leading privacy practices offer a transparent exchange to consumers: value in return for data. Google’s suite of services, including Gmail and Google Maps, is one well-known example. Privacy leaders then use that data to create ever-more appealing consumer experiences while tracking privacy indicators and taking advantage of inflection points in regulations and consumer expectations.
A few consumer-facing companies go above and beyond on consumer experience with branded leading privacy practices. Apple is one of those companies. This approach works for a select few companies, based on their very particular circumstances.
Even basic compliance can be a challenge, with many companies managing as many as 1,000 customer touchpoints across digital and physical properties. As a foundation, all TMT companies need at least the following:
A centralized privacy strategy aligned to consumer personas and journeys
A shared accountability framework across the organization
A consistent, transparent privacy experience for consumers that includes easy-to-understand ways to consent to share data
Continuous monitoring of new compliance requirements
Companies that choose agile privacy practices will also need a privacy platform. These platforms discover, map and tag consumer data. They can also stitch together all the programs (such as privacy, data protection and enterprise data management) that touch each consumer’s personal data life cycle.
Identity graphs, which map each consumer’s data across multiple services, devices and accounts, allow companies to personalize content and communications while more easily achieving and monitoring compliance.
Privacy leaders design privacy experiences and value exchanges in the same way they design products, services and consumer experiences: to satisfy consumers. These leaders also consider the employee experience. In the wake of the pandemic, for example, they offer privacy-first contact tracing solutions and other tech-enabled workplace options.
Branded privacy leaders go one step further, proactively offering consumers more controls over their privacy while also making privacy part of their go-to-market strategy.
Determine which privacy stance will provide the optimal consumer privacy experience — one that satisfies customers, supports your data strategies, aligns with your enterprise readiness and provides cost-effective compliance.
Indirect consumer relationships
Often small companies with large data footprints
Risk of increased third-party diligence performed by enterprise customers
Focuses on legal mandate of new regulations
Creates substantial friction with the business
Not a proactive approach
Track leading indicators; monitor and adapt to inflection points
Articulate compelling value exchange for innovative privacy consumer experiences
Brand-defining go-to-market privacy practices
Differentiate from less-trusted competitors
Meet consumers where they want to be
Not optimal for all companies
How much value does consumer data provide for our business?
How much value will the consumer gain from a more personalized experience?
How much friction is our current privacy program causing the business?
What risks do our data operations face?
How diverse are our data operations and in how many jurisdictions do we operate?
How concerned are our consumers (or our customers’ consumers) with privacy?
How many consumers are opting out?
How many consumers see privacy as a differentiator in purchasing decisions?
How much privacy is our competition offering?
Within the ever-changing privacy environment, your North Star remains constant: consumers. A focus on the experiences they prefer offers the clearest path to keep them coming back. It also prepares your company to meet ever-evolving compliance requirements, including regulations that require companies to offer consumers ever greater control over their data.
For the many TMT companies that depend on ongoing access to consumer data, this approach to privacy offers a competitive edge. If you offer experiences and value that win consumers’ trust by giving them reasons to want to share data, you will safeguard your access to that data. Start gradually. Win trust by offering enhanced experiences and value-for-data programs in limited parts of the business. Assess results before expanding to other parts of the business.
Your company’s optimal privacy posture today may also change tomorrow, especially if customers begin making more purchasing decisions based on privacy. A trusted privacy program will provide the foundation you need to thrive, one in which consumers willingly offer consent to share their data.
Tom Moore, Chief Privacy Officer and Senior Vice President Compliance, AT&T