If knowledge and data is power, then big data is big power. And by extension, with big power comes big responsibility.
In one of the more thought-provoking presentations at the SAP Hybris LIVE: Digital Summit 2017, Moritz Zimmermann, senior vice president, presales, CEC SAP Hybris, outlined how successful companies depend on accumulating vast amounts of customer data. One firm, Cambridge Analytica, helped both the Trump presidential and Brexit campaigns to victory. It created a selection of online psychometric tests to help users understand what kind of personality type they were, and asked those users to sign in with Facebook Connect.
The tests proved popular, and the combination of demographic and behavioral data from social networks and psychographic data from the survey led to an immensely valuable data set – one that the campaigns could target with highly personalized communications.
The more you interact with Facebook, the more intimately the social network knows you. If you click the Like button on 30 posts, Facebook knows you as well as a colleague. If you “like” 300 posts, it knows you better than your partner.
According to Zimmermann, “When it comes to the question of what should be the next birthday gift, Facebook might actually be better than your spouse.”
Facebook even tracks you when you’re not using Facebook – any page with a Facebook Like button can record your online behavior. Facebook isn’t the only company to keep tabs on what you do online, of course. A simple visit to a news website can lead to you being tracked by anything from 50-100 different organizations.
This may sound creepy, and Zimmermann agrees. “Isn’t the fact that there’s somebody out there with a file on each of us – isn’t that a scary thought to begin with?”
Consumers are fighting back. Web browser plug-ins such as Do Not Track and Ghostery, which tell users how they are being tracked on various sites and help them block those trackers, are increasingly popular. Snapchat, the app that deletes photos and messages after you have read them and has been termed ‘the opposite of Facebook’, has just had a hugely successful stock market flotation.
Data collection doesn’t have to be creepy, however. Data can be valuable to consumers as well as companies, and it’s up to those companies to show consumers that they will receive a better experience in return for giving up their data. Zimmermann used the example of Google Maps – in return for Maps knowing your home and work addresses, it can let you know about traffic jams on your route.
Consumers also need to know how this data will be used – for their own peace of mind, as well as to comply with the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will force companies to tell users what data they are collecting and how they are using it, as well as giving people the right to have their data deleted upon request.
SAP’s answer to the dual problem of retaining customer trust and avoiding hefty EU fines is the SAP Hybris Profile. This combines the business need to record customer data across all touchpoints, in order to provide a great omnichannel experience, with the need to give consumers control of their data.
“It collect signals from the consumer and the consumer’s behavior in real time, from everywhere, be it from the physical space, be it through iBeacon sensors, geofences, from smart products. It takes that data in real time and stores it in a new way.”
This data is combined with data from the user’s digital behavior – what they click on a website, what they hover over. The user can then see the data that has been collected on their own “consent UI” – and revoke access to any kind of data at any time.
“It gives control back to the user,” says Zimmermann. “In a secure and compliant fashion.”
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