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Accenture: Firms Must Improve ‘Digital Stewardship’

Businesses need to improve ‘digital stewardship’ and transparency and provide a clear ‘data dividend’ if they’re to win back trust from consumers to use their personal data, according to a new report from Accenture.

The consulting giant polled over 570 business professionals across the globe, spoke to academics in the UK and conducted extensive secondary research to compile its latest study: Guarding and Growing Personal Data Value.

It warns that the ability of businesses to collect, analyze and monetize personal customer data is under threat due to several key trends.

Trust in firms’ ability to handle this data securely is at an all-time low, and customers are increasingly being proactive in protecting that data, helped by new privacy-enhancing technologies, Accenture claimed.

Governments are more inclined to regulate in response to these privacy concerns, while watchdogs are increasingly scrutinizing such practices, it added.

And customers now want something in exchange if they’re going to hand over their data. Almost 60% of respondents to the study from products and manufacturing companies said their customers were proactively monetizing this data.

“Rather than fight these trends, businesses should pursue proactive strategies that will help them adapt to the changes ahead,” said Matthew Robinson, managing director of the Accenture Institute for High Performance. 

“This includes investing in the right talent and technologies to bolster their security capabilities and provide greater data protection, defining an operational model centered on risk management goals to better predict, detect, respond and recover from security threats, and taking action on the principles we’ve identified that can promote greater digital trust.”

For companies with EU-resident customers, the regulatory framework is about to get much tougher with regards to what they can do with personal data, with the General Data Protection Regulation set to land in a couple of years.

This will force some larger firms to meet strict “right to be forgotten” and “right to data portability” rules, whilst mandating breach notification for serious data breaches and levying fines of up to 4% of global annual turnover for serious infringements.

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