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Consumer confidence in companies' ability to safeguard their data has hit a ten-year low

Consumer confidence in companies’ ability to safeguard their data has hit a ten-year low

A report published today by Fujistu suggests that trust in businesses to keep customer data secure has hit a ten-year low, with less than ten per cent of consumers claiming they have faith in organisations to protect their data. David Robinson, chief security officer, UK & Ireland at Fujitsu, explained that recent NSA spying activities are in part responsible for the shift in attitudes, which could have implications for businesses using big data.

Fujitsu worked in conjunction with OnePoll and surveyed 3,000 consumers in the UK on their attitudes towards how organisations in the private and public sector manage their data. And according to Fujitsu, faith in these organisations to keep customer data safe has hit a ten year low: just nine per cent of consumers said they have faith in the ability of these organisations to keep their data safe from loss. 29 per cent said they have experienced a decline in trust this past year, with more than ten per cent reporting an instance of data loss during the same period.

“The results of our research showed consumer tolerance for data loss is at an all-time low,” Robinson said. “With consumers battling to understand the impact on their personal information if a company is hacked, there is no room for error anymore. To remain ahead of their competitors – and trusted in the eyes of the consumer – organisations need to ensure they are robust in their security.”

Robinson explained that much of this shift in attitudes can be attributed to increased visibility of data-related scandals, particularly recent revelations on the NSA data surveillance activities, which is reflected in the report. 69 per cent of survey respondents said this decline in faith was simply down to a lack of trust in organisations, and two thirds of consumers said that fears over the government’s ability to safeguard their information has contributed “to an overall erosion of trust around data.”

The report suggests organisations need to be more transparent with how they use customer data, particularly in relation to their security practices.

“The effort required here is industrial, as companies are no longer fighting against individuals, but a sophisticated criminal industry, designed solely to access their data,” Robinson said. “We describe organisations in two groups, those who have been hacked, and those who will be.”

But beyond security the survey also suggests that trust is being eroded because consumers fail to see how their information improves a particular service, which may have implications for how these organisations balance their use of big data with the need to maintain transparency and trust in their services. Over a quarter of those surveyed believe their data is simply being used to extract more money from them, and 63 per cent said they do not want organisations to use their data to improve customer experience.

The results may put many businesses keen to use big data to improve their bottom line or personalise services in a bit of an awkward position. The report suggests most consumers simply don’t trust these organisations to adequately safeguard their data, nor do they seem to want these businesses. Added transparency around how that data is collected and used could backfire unless the benefits of using said data can be effectively communicated and demonstrated.

“As our results show there is a desire for transparency, and a real need to showcase the benefits of data to the average shopper,” Robinson said, adding that to really change perception organisations need to “show value.”

“In order to build trust with their customer base, it is imperative for businesses to be open and transparent around data collection. Given the growth in awareness, and the recent spate of data breach stories, it is inevitable that consumers are feeling more protective than ever around the information they share,” he said.

“The successful businesses of the future will be those that reinstate the consumer – organisation contract, that gives them a significantly improved experience, which is highly personal to them. That doesn’t mean a need for more data – what it means is the smart use of it,” he concluded.

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