At the core of 21st century business lies data. And as the digital revolution envelops more and more of our activities that core will only get bigger.
We have become most aware of these issues in the context of social media and the biz models that have grown up around advertising as a way to sustain enterprises that are free to the user/consumer.
But of course it goes deeper, much deeper. National security issues, health, transportation – a thick strand of data/privacy concerns and opportunities runs through sector after sector. In this illuminating piece in the NY Times, the spotlight is on Acxiom, a vast aggregator of consumer data whose name is known to few.
These 5 Principles are clear:
1. Every day, more of our lives will be digitized.
2. Every day, there will be more business opportunity in the mining (refining is the word Acxiom likes) of the data.
3. For a stable business environment to flourish, without GMO-style revolts or data scandals such as have punctuated the short history of social media, we need to move towards consensus policies that give business maximum freedom and citizens maximum control over their lives and their digital output – through the optimal mix of self-regulation and legal oversight.
4. Concerns over cybersecurity are growing. Every expert I know is more more worried all the time – as we aggregate data and in the process raise the risk of its being released by accident (another laptop left on a train) or theft. Some of the smartest people on the planet are entirely focused on hacking into our securest systems, and they keep scoring. Risk assessments need to be candid and – unless this raises its own security issues – public.
5. In these days of globalization and cloud, there is no way to avoid global standards.