This article is published in collaboration with SAP Community Network.
In Sandy Smolan’s documentary The Human Face of Big Data, people show they’re only too aware of the potential of Big Data to change the world for the better and the worse.
Big Data can help us to improve our lives in all kinds of ways. However, there is also the potential to misuse that data. Retailers may use it irresponsibly to bombard customers with sales messages. Hackers may use it fraudulently. My industry colleague Timo Elliott uses a quote, “with great power comes great responsibility” – and it’s very appropriate when it comes to Big Data.
Timo has talked about how organizations need to be aware that there are ethical aspects to Big Data. They manage their responsibility by introducing new roles such as Chief Data Officers who take care of the governance of information, making sure it’s used wisely and profitably. He also explains how Big Data can be used to help spot data breaches and suspicious information downloads, by using predictive algorithms.
What else should we be doing when it comes to how we use the data we hold about people? As consumers, I believe we should always have a say in how companies use the information they have about us. There are some quite disturbing examples where retailers have targeted customers inappropriately and without permission, using personal information. They have breached the privacy of some people, causing problems for them at home. Customers may be OK about companies talking about what books they’re reading, but not about a pregnancy or other personal matters.
The most important thing is to build trust first with customers and then over time they may be happy for you to engage with them. The different privacy laws in operation in different countries don’t really give us a choice in the matter – and there can be heavy fines for not securing customer data.
We face several challenges. We must lock down data sets away from hackers. We must meet compliance regulations and policies to ensure that data is handled in proper ways. We must build the systems that can manage and analyze data across the different privacy laws. And it’s vital to address customer tolerance for privacy and sharing information on an individual basis.
To find out more about managing Big Data responsibly, watch the Run Simple Show – Big Data Security Part 1: Privacy at http://virtualrunsimpletour.com/runsimpleseries
Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: David Jonker is a writer at SAP Community Network.
Image: An analyst looks at code. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart.