Today, most businesses recognise that their data should be a source of huge competitive advantage.

But according to our new global privacy survey, few are seizing the opportunity. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the 1,500 participating business leaders said organisations in their industry aren’t making the most of their data ‘ and are missing out on competitive advantage as a result.

In this blog ‘ the first in a series of four, focusing on our key findings ‘ we’ll take an in-depth look at the data utilisation opportunity, and reveal exactly what’s holding so many organisations back.

Three great reasons to take control of your data

New digital services, advances in technology, and the ubiquitous nature of online activity mean that an unprecedented amount of data is created every day. And this astounding growth is set to snowball rather than slow.

This represents a huge opportunity for all organisations. But only if they can find a safe way to successfully manage and use their data. With 2.5 quintillion bytes created each day, that’s a big ‘if‘.

Of the organisations we talked to, each had different ideas about the benefits this data could deliver if successfully harnessed. The most popular application, cited by 76% of respondents, was to improve customer service.

With customer choice at an all time high, customer service is a huge competitive differentiator in almost every industry. So, using data to solve problems faster, and cut down on time spent on hold could directly result in greater customer retention ‘ a potential benefit also named by the majority of those in our survey.

Over half of those we spoke to anticipate the benefits of using more targeted marketing as a way to drive sales. The impact of this can be huge, with research showing that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences.

So what’s stopping you?

With the perceived benefits of data utilisation so clear, one question remains: why are so many organisations missing out on this opportunity?
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, there’s the sheer complexity involved in capturing, managing and analysing huge quantities of data. But there are other barriers to adoption, too.

Fear is a major one. Of the business leaders we surveyed, a majority thought the risks associated with using company data outweigh the potential benefits to the organisation. With concerns over the penalties and reputational damage caused by failure to meet compliance requirements, CEOs were also likely share this opinion.

Overall, not being sufficiently prepared to protect data from breach, loss or damage was the biggest concern among our respondents. It’s not just regulatory risks that organisations face in the GDPR era ‘ reputational risk is top of mind for business leaders. With data privacy in the public eye, nobody wants to make headlines for the wrong reasons and have to fight to win back customer trust after sensitive data is lost or stolen.

The Privitar view: unfounded fears and a huge opportunity

Businesses operate in an era of stringent regulation and high customer expectations around how their data is handled and safeguarded. With the damage a breach can do to corporate reputations and customer trust, having concerns over data use is only natural ‘ but it shouldn’t mean missing out on big opportunities. For those eager to make the most of their data’s potential, privacy-enhancing solutions lift restrictions on data exploration.

This technology keeps sensitive customer information safe while maintaining utility for analysts who can use it for a variety of purposes. This extra layer of protection delivers vital peace of mind, freeing organisations to improve customer service, enhance brand loyalty, identify new opportunities, and gain genuine competitive advantage.

As Privitar CEO Jason du Preez says: ‘The research shows there’s a real backlash against the data revolution from consumers. And in response, most business leaders are reluctant to embrace data-driven insight.  Maintaining the trust and confidence of data subjects is essential to the growth of the data economy.   Clear communication and transparency over data use is essential, while data privacy technologies can be adopted to ensure sensitive data can be effectively used for insight while protecting against privacy threats.’

The final word

In modern business, not using the data at your disposal is no longer an option ‘ but neither is using it carelessly.

To uncover the best insights and gain the biggest advantages, you need robust processes in place to ensure you can collect, analyse and utilize your data without risk or trepidation.

Do this, and a whole new world of opportunity will present itself.

Want to learn more?

Explore more key findings from our global privacy survey, and discover:

  • Consumers’ top concerns about how companies use their data
  • How the misuse of data is impacting willingness to share
  • Why data protection must become a business priority