Posted on : 10-06-2013 | By : Frank Eliason | In : In the News, Technology
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on June 10, 2013. To see the original post click here.
I expect we will be seeing a lot of dancing over the next few days as more is learned about the NSA use of phone data, such as the information they are requiring Verizon to provide or project PRISM that none of the businesses involved seemed to know about. We already have seen some of the political dancing, but as more information is revealed, the dance moves become even harder for the players involved. Even if your company was not one of the nine mentioned, you also have some dancing to do, or at least you will.
Events over the past week involving the National Security Agency will have broader implications that will not be fully understood for years to come. The ramifications will have impact on businesses large and small, and in the way individuals interact with technology. I do not want to explore the political aspects of the discussion, as I expect those much more experience than I will be doing this over the course of the next several days and months. I also do not want to pass judgement on the individual who leaked the information as this debate can be moderated by those who specialize in that discussion. I would like to discuss the broader implications for business as we continue down this path of the big data dance.
You may be surprised that I am referring to it as a dance, but that is because we are constantly moving on this topic, trying to keep up with all the data sources but also keep pace with changing regulations, and more importantly Consumer sentiment on how this information is used or maintained. This is not a new topic, but certainly brought to the forefront by the NSA conversation. There are many books currently written on the big data topic and new ones on the way every day. One book I am looking forward to is Age of Context by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I even touched a little on the topic in my book @YourService. I called it Scalable Intimacy. Thanks to social media we now know the Customer for what they want the world to know. I also discussed the problem to this. Customers do not always know businesses could obtain this information. I pointed out if information was not used in a way consistent with how the Customer expects it could easily cause a backlash. In my view this is the core of the trouble with the NSA situation. People did not know the amount of access, how the information would be used, and how it would be maintained. Without full transparency on these topics, business, and governments will see ramifications. We are still in the early days of this issue for the government, but I expect it will grow much deeper if these answers do not fully come out.
Technology is imperative to our everyday lives. I can not imagine living a day without the access that the internet provides. Social media provides me a way to connect to people and learn from them. You can learn a lot about me through these channels. Google probably knows me in the most intimate ways because I tend to search for all kinds of topics that important to me, not always shareable via social media. The we have website we visit which can be very telling, although usually meaningless without the context for visiting. We also have companies like Facebook striving to better deliver on this context by connecting your online data to that of your offline behaviors, using data such as information from store loyalty cards
In light of the NSA leak, I would recommend businesses take a few steps back and assess how they are utilizing big data, ask your Customers their views, and look to find ways to offer transparency to your Customers on how you will utilize the data. Data is often like a drug, where access to some information causes a desire for more and more data. This is probably true with the NSA, but also with many businesses. The time to fix this is now! Provide your Customers and prospects a bill of rights on how you use and retain data and then live up to it everyday throughout your organization.
I look forward to the deeper conversations on this topic because I think it is important for all of us so we can get back to building technology that forever changes our lives in a positive manner. For now we can all enjoy the dance and find ways to be better partners to each other.