In this digital age, organizations are building their economy on massive data streams. The modern internet user base has increased to a huge level. Every digital device running on an internet connection leaves its digital footprint, which is collectively known as digital datasets.
The traditional data governance frameworks and risk mitigation strategies are insufficient to monitor these enormous data streams where data is collected, combined, and shared. Today, businesses can utilize real-time data analysis and get detailed insights to isolate the risk classes and strategize to counter them.
These classes include :
- Unethical or even illicit utilization of data insights
- Intensifying biases that aggravate socio-economic issues
- Use of data for purposes that were not agreed upon by the original disclosers without their consent
If the organization doesn’t have ethical data practices in its decision-making process, all the risks, as mentioned earlier, will go unnoticed, eventually causing a fall in brand loyalty.
Let’s take an example here to portray the degree of mistrust or damage unethical data monitoring can do to the brand and its users.
A dating app tasks its developers to increase the app time usage for its users. After their data analysis, the developers noticed a powerful connection between engagement and ethnic or racial biases. The developers, tasked with improving business metrics, now start working on a new match recommendation algorithm predicting and reinforcing these biases. Carrying out the said changes will create the necessary pull for the customers to stay in the app longer and go for the in-app purchases. Here the competition is to increase app time usage for the user base and push them towards the in-app subscription model. Hence, growing the business’s profit margin.
This example illustrates that the digital economy rides high on some bad judgments on their end due to the extreme level of competition. And more than often, these judgments lead to massive ethical failures.
There are multiple risks associated with the ethical use of data, and the legacy measures are no longer sufficient to guide the technological world properly. What’s the solution, you may ask? Develop more robust ethical controls embedded in the data supply chains that control the users rather than the receiver. Only then will organizations be able to create “digital trust.”
Defining digital trust
Let’s start with the most important question, what is digital trust, and why is it essential for modern business owners? Digital trust is a widely accepted belief that a brand must always be reliable, capable, safe, transparent, and truthful while carrying out its digital practices.
It is not a far-fetched thought to say digital trust is challenging to build but easy to lose, making it a critical differentiator for the betterment of the digital economy. Digital trust is often given to the companies that have proven to their users that they provide:
- Data ethics
When users click on the “I accept the condition” button while using a company’s product, they are not allowing their data to be used in an unethical manner. Instead, they are confirming their digital trust in the business.
Ethical measures go a long way toward increasing your brand value
84% of consumers identify good data security and protection of personal information as the key characteristics that they look for when deciding where to spend their money.
The more digital trust a business receives in the modern market, the more users will flock to use its services and products.
And how can businesses do so?
As the world moves more towards digitization, the C-level business executives are trying to create a sense of security, safety, privacy, and reliability among their users. Business leaders, especially, CISOs have started focusing their attention on removing the threat of cyber-attacks and protecting private data from unlawful access. This enables businesses to take proper security measures by adopting a zero-trust model.
The zero-trust model decreases opportunities for hackers to access secure content by limiting privileged access to the network or the machines in that network. Digital trust enables users to decide on a company that provides better services without abusing their data. It goes without saying that users will utilize the services of companies that have established themselves as trustworthy.
Digital trust helps business growth
65% of security leaders agree that the role of privacy plays a large part in achieving a strong cybersecurity posture, and 73% currently have a privacy leader in place. – Ponemon Institute’s fourth annual study on “The Cyber Resilient Organization.”
Today, data has transformed into a precious currency. Business leaders are starting to see it in the same manner. The advent of digital technology has enabled businesses to demand more trust from their customers where the collection and analysis of data are concerned. We all know that every website tracks how consumers spend their time on various web pages through digital breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, headlines of technology-based issues like security hacks, unauthorized surveillance, improper use of personal data, lack of information transparency, and spread of misleading information have made the users panic-stricken.
These incidents create fear and distrust in customers, employees, partners, investors, or regulators and cause significant damage to an organization’s reputation in the already competitive market.
The way businesses handle user data while collecting, aggregating, analyzing, and monetizing plays a crucial role in their overall reputation. Companies have to start looking beyond the dollars and divert their focus more towards data ethics by developing a data supply chain framework that enables businesses to gauge their current ethical practices. In order to get the digital high ground, businesses must start battling to increase their customers’ trust in themselves.
The picture explains various terms and definitions in the data supply chain.
For businesses to use data ethically through the data supply chain, it is crucial to change the way it is looked upon within the organizational process. Companies must add an extra layer of scrutiny to make data ethics enhance digital trust.
Top 8 principles to help businesses apply ethical data practices
The following infographic will help clarify the need for bringing better ethical values while collecting, analyzing, and using the data sets.
For achieving digital trust, businesses must have more robust data ethics principles in place. In this section, we are outlining some of the principles that will help enterprises to create the much-required code of data ethics.
1. Respecting the data
Big data produce riveting insights about the general population. This general population creates a big part of the user base for many enterprises. When a customer shares their personal information with a business, such as their address, age, location, etc., maintaining its privacy and keeping it secure fall upon the business itself. Insights derived from this data impact business in various manners. However, the potential damage it can cause to the end-users has to be the companies’ central point of consideration.
2. Having accountability for the use of data sets
Modern-day data professionals must use data parallel to the users’ understanding and intentions who have agreed to share it with the businesses. There are various regulations paced for governing datasets based on data status,
- public data
- private data
- proprietary data
What matters more here is what companies do or are doing with the datasets. When data is repurposed for research and industry use, it promises more return and better benefits for data analytics.
3. Checking the past use of data
Every dataset and accompanying analytics tool has historical information attached to decision-making and must be auditable. This includes the systems used for tracking
- The context of the collection
- Methods of consent
- Chains of responsibility
- Assessments of data quality and accuracy
4. Matching the privacy safeguards with expectations
Data subjects have a range of context-dependent expectations about the privacy and security of their data. Developers and data professionals must consider these expectations and align all the privacy safeguards with these expectations.
5. Understanding and following the law
The modern world is riding high on digital transformation as it has become the standard evolutionary path for businesses. Laws have been lagging to keep up with the pace of digital innovation and change, which means the existing regulations are often poorly calibrated and open to failure. To make good use of data ethics, the leaders need to define more robust compliance frameworks.
6. Don’t collect data just for the sake of it
The power and peril of data analytics are that “present” data collection will be used for unpredictable purposes in the “future.” Businesses must consider the possibility that collecting just the necessary data will allow faster, more accurate, and better analysis.
7. Explaining the data collection and analysis process
Businesses must maximize transparency while collecting data. This will minimize significant risks that arise when data moves through the data supply chain.
8. Internal ethical review and robust governance
Organizations need to prioritize establishing consistent, efficient, and actionable ethics review practices when it comes to new products, services, and research programs. They must have Internal peer-review practices that can mitigate risk and an external review board which will contribute to public trust.
Data ethics presents various organizational challenges that cannot be resolved by compliance regimes alone. The organizations that use data for their analysis and research programs must create a collaborative, routine, and transparent practice for ethical review.
Data ethics is a growing priority for CISOs (Chief Information Security Officer)
27% of business executives view security initiatives as having a negative return on investment. – CSO Online
It is a norm where businesses collect and use data for building their strategies and growth plan, and it will only grow in the coming years. As we shared at the start of the article, every touch you make on your mobile screen, every search you do online, and every purchase you make from e-stores leaves a physical mark on the internet. By 2025, IDC says worldwide data will grow by 61% to 175 zettabytes. Now that’s a humungous estimate and needs to be taken into consideration by businesses and users. Users will be the main contributors, but companies will be the facilitators as they need this data for refining their products, service, or research. But more importantly, they need to make sure that they build enough confidence in their customers and new users by having the best data ethics principles in place for protecting the integrity of the users’ data in their system.
They can successfully do so by having ethical algorithms and automation in place. Online shoppers are aware that their purchase histories influence the various discount offers poured onto their apps, emails, or online messages. But there is another fact that is worrisome, ecommerce brands often offer similar items at different prices based on location and other factors.
Yes, there are tax-related, transportation-related, and other reasons behind the pricing, but this same approach can reap better benefits for the businesses when deployed carefully. Businesses can accomplish this via automated sense-and-respond systems by including previously collected data for faster and better decision-making.
The bottom line: Data ethics is the key to unlocking unparallel success in this technological age
In this technology-driven modern era, data is the virtual currency employed for unlocking unparallel success. Ethical data concerns will continue to increase. Modern business leaders require new ways of moving forward while embracing new opportunities.
Organizations must take preventive measures and control or thwart the risk of exposing sensitive customer data or even the unethical use of customer data. In doing so, they’ll gain the trust of stakeholders, reap business benefits, and position themselves for prolonged success in the digital economy.
Many companies are yet to recognize the power of disruption. This is where award-winning digital transformation enabling partners like Rapidops come into the picture. For the past decade, Rapidops Inc. has helped businesses understand the positive and negative effects of technology. In doing so, we have created a plethora of opportunities for our clients to grow at an exponential rate. The same efforts have been recognized by Inc. 5000 and CBJ.
We work with business leaders and help them see the potential consequences of employing disruptive technologies throughout their organization. If you want to learn more about our work or sit down and discuss a product strategy, we will be happy to do so.
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