Even just a few years ago, privacy and consent were considered regulatory and compliance issues. But that is changing rapidly, as trust returns to the centre of brand conversations.

That is especially so as consumers begin to understand the extent to which their own data is used to target them. This point was brought into sharp relief during the Trust, Privacy, and Consumer Consent event we ran in collaboration with SAP. It is also the subject of a whitepaper we have written.

The speakers at the event included Blaine Carter, CISO of Franklin Covey, Adam Fraser, Director of Customer Practice at EY, Samantha Gavel, NSW Privacy Commissioner, and Aarron Spinley, Growth and Innovation Evangelist for SAP.

According to Fraser, “Attitudes are shifting. We are only 20 to 25 years into the Internet Revolution. When we look back at the Industrial Revolution or the impact of electricity, or the arrival of radio and television or smartphones, it takes business a long time to adapt to the new rules of engagement.”

When it comes to matters of privacy and consent on the internet, it’s only really in relatively recent years that best practices have started to emerge, he said.

But attitudes are firming quickly. Fraser quoted research conducted by EY earlier this year that demonstrates the point.

“I mean, 88 per cent of customers think that privacy is a fundamental human right. And 73 per cent believe that the personal data they share benefits companies more than it benefits them.”

When it comes to value exchange, the consumer instinct is that for all the information they are sharing, brands are actually getting the better of the deal at the moment, he said.

The research also indicated how this has affected the perception of brands. 

“Ninety per cent of customers say they are more likely to trust companies that have a strong privacy policy.”

According to Fraser, “With regulation like GDPR, and the California Privacy Act and various other regulatory pieces of legislation coming in, that’s giving marketers that nudge that they need to take this topic seriously.”

And, he said, it needs to be a marketing-led communication. “It’s not the legal team. It’s not a regulatory team. Five years ago, or ten years ago, this was a tick-the-box-leave-it-to-the-compliance-guy issue. It now impacts the end-to-end enterprise. Marketers have got to take a strong part in this conversation. I’d love them to be leading this conversation. We’re starting to see that emerge, but it’s very early days.”

“There’s an absolute opportunity for brands to differentiate in this area.” 

Competitive advantage

That was a point reinforced by SAP’s Aarron Spinley. “There’s kind of an inherent opportunity for competitive advantage in many categories, purely because we haven’t yet seen a wholesale adoption not just of the technology, but actually of the value system that’s attached to that.”

According to Spinley, “There’s an old saying that if you’re in the woods and you’re being chased by a grizzly bear you don’t need to be faster than the bear — you just have to be faster than the other guy. Right. And this kind of plays out a little bit here as well. We’re still relatively early in this journey, in some ways.”

Spinley said it is important to make this an explicit conversation with customers, but that a lot of companies don’t do that yet.

“There are great opportunities for those who do,” he suggested.

“We are in this era now, that when you do the right thing, actually the good guy does win. This sort of commitment to the customer really plays out.

“It is as simple as not abusing the relationship,” Spinley said.

“This is about competitive advantage, I think that will distill over time. Right now it’s really more about being seated at the table and earning the right to be at the table with your customers.”

This story is published by the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which SAP is a member. DIU Members provide their insights and expertise to our digital executive audience. Fees apply

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