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Transparency is key in the data privacy conversation

This article was based on the interview with Christian Ward, Chief Data Officer at Yext by Greg Kihlström, MarTech keynote speaker for The Agile Brand with Greg Kihlström podcast. Listen to the original episode here:

Data privacy is a topic that has gained significant attention in recent years. With an increased focus on the digital customer experience and the increasing amount of personal information being collected and shared, concerns about privacy and security have become more prevalent. In a recent podcast interview, Christian Ward from Yext discusses the importance of data privacy and the need for transparency in how data is collected, used, and shared.

The speaker begins by sharing a conversation with their brother, a data privacy attorney, who is well-versed in European and US law. They discuss the origins of the word “data,” which comes from Latin and means “the thing having been given.” This is an interesting insight because it highlights the true meaning of data – it is something that is provided or given, rather than something that is taken or collected without consent.

Christian goes on to explain that for many years, social media platforms and other tools have been built upon the idea of taking as much data as possible from individuals and using it for various purposes. However, this goes against the true meaning of data, which is about providing and giving information. The speaker argues that a first principle of data privacy should be to let individuals share what they are comfortable with, rather than taking everything without their consent.

The problem, the speaker suggests, is that we have become accustomed to a world of centralized search, where everyone goes to one place, such as Google, to find information. This has led to a strategy of tracking individuals to determine their interests and preferences, which is seen as the wrong approach. The speaker predicts that in the future, dropdown menus will become obsolete, and people will instead rely on talking or typing into a universal interface.

Christian Ward emphasizes that marketers need to unlearn everything they have learned about engagement and embrace a new approach to data privacy. They highlight the importance of transparency in how data is gathered, used, and given to AI. Privacy laws, such as the AI Act in Europe, require companies to explain and prove the transparency of their data practices. This means being able to show regulators and customers how and why certain data was used.

To address these requirements, he suggests adopting a lean data strategy. This involves having a separate data structure or stack that is not related to all of a company’s information. By segmenting data and keeping it in a lockboxed area, companies can ensure transparency, accuracy, and lineage. This approach aligns with the regulators’ expectations and demonstrates that companies are treating everyone equally and being good stewards of their customers’ information.

Data should be seen as something provided or given by individuals, rather than something taken without their consent. There is a need for marketers to unlearn old strategies and embrace a lean data approach that focuses on transparency, accuracy, and relevance. By doing so, brands can create personalized experiences, build trust, and engage in positive dialogue with their customers. Ultimately, data privacy is about transparency and ensuring that individuals’ information is treated with respect and used ethically.

House of the Customer by Greg Kihlström is now available.
House of the Customer by Greg Kihlström