It has become impossible for a single person to comprehend just how many virtual locations their personal data resides and how secure it actually is.

From social media housing general data about us to Spotify or Netflix saving our entertainment preferences, we quite literally wear our lives on sleeves made of algorithms stored on remote servers. But as the Three Digital Accelerators, which include computing power/processing power, bandwidth, and storage, continue to drive exponential digital transformation, our digital dependency increases as well.

Is this a bad thing? Of course not! Digital transformation is meant to improve our lives, not riddle us with fear. However, there is certainly a dark side to the connectivity that provides us with such boundless access to information, services, entertainment, and more: a breach of privacy.

Consumers: Is It Really Your Data?

In the realm of social media, it is no longer a secret that you are the product. While you spend time scrolling, you are subjected to relentless advertising and targeted marketing based on your personal data.

This may worry both seasoned and beginning users of social media; however, it goes well beyond the likes of Facebook and Instagram. When you buy something on Amazon or subscribe to an entertainment streaming service, you agree to the terms of service of said company, often buried deep in a string of legalities.

So, in selecting ‘‘OK,’’ is it still your data? In many cases, your data does not belong to you because you are the product, as mentioned above. Companies make money by using your data to place ads in front of your eyes and ears. Your data is essentially the company’s currency in exchange for the product they sell or service they provide.

Breaches and Privacy

If consumers were asked honestly if they feel trust should be earned, they would likely reply with a resounding ‘yes.’’ However, that simple act of checking the box that states they agree to the terms and services has become a brainless reflex in our fast-paced world.

But while having a privacy policy is a mere legal maneuver a company implements to protect it from lawsuits, it does nothing to actually protect consumer data from being stolen in the event of a breach.

Once a cyber-criminal gets their hands on sensitive personal customer information, a tangled web must be unwoven to resolve the breach and do right by the customers who have been affected. This breach infects their trust in an organization, often leaving the relationship damaged beyond repair.

Privacy-as-a-Service

In lieu of the frequency at which these data breaches are occurring, customers both old and new are starting to expect their privacy to be a company’s utmost concern. Privacy-as-a-service, or PaaS for short, has become a standard in many consumer demands. They want no part of a company that doesn’t make a tremendous effort to protect their personal data.

The reason this ‘privacy revolt’ of sorts is taking place is due to the reality that the instances where you need not enter at least some of your personal information to purchase a product or service are becoming few and far between. You almost always have to at least disclose your name and your birth date.

Outside of willingly having to put your information into apps and websites, even your mobile devices are veritable footprints for your behavior, search history, and where you traveled recently. By all means, you sign agreements at service providers that are in the same category as privacy policies on apps and websites.

Use Anticipation to Navigate Privacy Issues

So, what can be done to navigate this new frontier of data and privacy and ensure your PaaS offerings are fully integrated in everything you offer?

First, identify where your industry is going based on Hard Trends both inside and outside of the industry itself. What are the digital disruptions heading your way that will impact how you collect customer data and their personal information? Once that is established, what technological options are available to increase security and thwart cyberattacks?

What you’re doing as an organization is pre-solving privacy problems before they occur using the Skip It Principle from my Anticipatory Leader System. Rather than developing elaborate legal loopholes to merely prevent being sued, you’re skipping that problem and pre-solving the real problem: a customer’s fear of personal information being leaked in the first place.

Once this plan is in place, put it at the forefront of your products and services, and reassure all new and returning customers that you have their privacy concerns solved!

Thereafter, listen to your customers. If you get the sense from customer feedback that their trust in your privacy security is waning, it’s time to reassess things. It also pays to ask how customers feel about their data being handled by your organization before you implement any of my Anticipatory principles so you can gauge their expectations directly.

Digital disruptions come in all shapes and sizes, but an Anticipatory mindset keeps you innovating and progressing through them all. As our world gets increasingly more digitally connected, staying ahead of the disruption curve is vital.


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