Increased Remote Work Means You Must Define Your Information Privacy Strategy
by Betsy Burton
Defining a privacy strategy is important now more than ever before. I have been having a lot of conversations with vendors, end-users, and consumers about data privacy and ethics. Many are feeling the gradual erosion of privacy while also feeling the tug of the benefits and perks of supporting customer experience management. As events like the potential banning of TikTok force privacy concerns into the public light, individuals and enterprises need to decide how they will pursue information strategy.
As technology develops, more privacy challenges emerge. Further, most organizations and people are just collecting, exchanging, and sharing information without stopping and thinking about what they are doing. In this blog, I explore how we as individuals and businesses can make conscious decisions about how much information we want to be shared.
Information Strategy in a World of Remote Work
With the unexpected interruptions to global work caused by the coronavirus outbreak, more people are working from home than ever before. As teams migrate away from on-premise networks towards more distributed setups, new privacy issues are cropping up.
While there is clearly a need for regulatory management, it is up incumbent on us all to determine our strategy for responding to these infrastructure changes and support the secure exchange and storage of data for associates and end-users.
In what follows, we outline a few critical information strategy concerns, giving a preview of how you can develop your information use and sharing strategies.
How to Develop Your Information Use Strategy
Every business using customer information must have an information collection, analytics/usage, and sharing strategy. This strategy needs to outline what information the organization should and should not collect, analyze, and share to support the business strategy. And, this customer information strategy should be clearly communicated internally and with customers.
Today, fewer than 30% of organizations even have a clearly-articulated business strategy, let alone a clearly-defined information strategy. Without a strategy, they opportunistically analyze and share information, often without any consideration of ethical and civil liberties. This can put employees at risk, lose customers, and cost a company its reputation—in this time, when enterprises are being evaluated for their capacity to strategically adapt, it is vital not to make these kinds of mistakes.
How to Develop Your Own Information Sharing Strategy
It is a given that governments and businesses are collecting and analyzing more and more of your information/data every year. The problem is that most businesses and individuals are often blindly giving away and sharing information, and randomly opting-in or -out of information-sharing agreements.
Every individual and business providing and sharing information must also have an information collection, analytics/usage, and sharing strategy.
Making conscious decisions about what types of information you want to share and with whom can be used to guide what types of businesses you are willing to work with or not.
The only way individuals and businesses can ever expect to protect their privacy and civil liberties is if they make conscious decisions about how much they want to share and with whom. Many of today’s companies will steal and sell people’s data without a second thought.
How to Build an Information Strategy Framework
Enterprises need to be aware that their reputations are being defined in this moment. It is a critical juncture for organizations to streamline their business strategy and make their employees feel valued. Taking the right steps to care for employees in this difficult time will drive the retention of talented workers in the future.
Individuals and businesses that are using and providing information should define an information strategy framework based on:
1) the degree of trust and reputation
2) type of information
3) granularity of information
4) how information is gathered
A large shipping organization working with their close partners might collect and analyze massive amounts of shipment tracking, conditions, and load information in order to offer their customers with optimized shipping services. However, this usage of information is based on a highly trusted business relationship.
On the other hand, a business or individual might be fine with a transactional retailer tracking anonymous information regarding purchases for trends, but not want detailed personalized or targeted collection of information.
Organizations Must Support Privacy, Ethics, and Civil Liberties
We are increasingly seeing organizations making some efforts to define roles within their organization to help them make ethical calls (Digital Business Transformation Will Drive the Need for Digital Ethicist). These experts can provide vital services when it comes to defining corporate governance and selecting ethical enterprise technologies to incorporate into the workplace.
The problem is that ethical issues are most often not a big obvious ethical dilemma that can be considered in isolation; they are often a series of small ethical decisions that may be in an ethical grey area that then lead to a big impact. This is certainly the case with privacy, where the subtle, persistent loss of information is an ongoing ethical failure.
Organizations collecting, analyzing, and sharing information need an independent, continuous, and embedded digital ethicist or civil liberties role that is an available resource for executives, leaders, and developers alike.
Individuals and businesses providing information must strategically determine what information they are willing to share and with whom, or risk just making random tactical decisions or defaulting to opting-in to total information sharing.
Businesses collecting, analyzing, and sharing information must define and communicate their customer information strategy, or risk their reputation and differentiation as their most critical customers become more information savvy.
Now more than ever, with COVID-19 disrupting enterprise infrastructure and work processes around the world, there is a need to take these issues seriously and strategically.