Today’s world runs on data. We all leave footprints in the digital world, from the profiles we build of ourselves online, to the countless internet searches we conduct each week, to the information we share via a myriad of apps downloaded on a multitude of devices.
The proliferation of new technologies has meant that those footprints – the information and data generated through our digital actions – are seen, recorded and analysed, not only by the service providers but often by their partners as well. Data is everywhere.
The quality, management and understanding of that data is crucial for both businesses and society. It allows businesses to develop better products and services, and it is also the key to building better relationships with consumers.
To build those relationships, we (the business community) must recognise that the information belongs first and foremost to the consumer. It is their data. We are its custodians, and we must act accordingly, to make sure that people understand and are comfortable with our sight and use of that data.
We must be able to build trust, while meeting all the associated obligations that come with the responsibility of managing huge volumes of personal information in a complex digital world – prioritising security and transferring that data both safely and efficiently.
At Experian we process over 1.5 billion records a year. We believe data can empower, and we want to help people understand the positive role that it can play in their lives and how it can help improve their financial circumstances.
To do that, we must understand how good that understanding is today. How far have consumers come on the ‘data journey’? Do they appreciate the control they have, their rights, and access to their data? Do they trust the caretakers of that data to do the right things with it, to protect it, to manage it and to look after on their behalf?
Getting this right is more than just important. It is the responsibility of companies like ours to help people understand what information exists about them, where it goes, what it means, and how they can use it better.
In May next year, the arrival of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will see a new enforced focus on consumer rights in this space. We will also see the advent of new data driven initiatives such as Open Banking, designed to give consumers more freedom to choose the products and services that work for them. These initiatives make it imperative for the business community to find better ways to communicate with consumers about why we have their data, what we do with it, and how they can use it and control it in the way they’re most comfortable with.
We have commissioned research into people’s attitudes to data to help us, and you, understand how people in Britain feel about the way their data is kept and used today. We’ve done it because we want to have this conversation both with the business community and with people themselves. It’s their data, and we want to make sure they’re empowered, comfortable and confident in where it is and how it is being used.
True innovation can only be fostered in an environment of understanding and trust. We hope this is the first step in building that together.