It is no longer news that the knowledge economy of today is largely driven by data.
Innovative disruptions have come to virtually all sectors of economies through the introduction of technological solutions and ultimately, personalization.
Examples of these are seen in the way people have moved from cable TV to streaming services, traditional retail setups to e-commerce, and so on.
A study by Accenture on hyper-relevant customer experiences show that 40% of consumers switched companies as far back as 2017 due to inadequate personalization features. Today, it is safe to say that this number would have doubled.
Customer Data Harvesting and its Downsides
To achieve the gains enjoyed by customers, these companies conduct customer data harvesting. These companies take raw data of their customers, compute them and transform them into actionable models which churn out results based on the computed data.
While this provides consumers with a more connected feel to the brand or business, it has its downsides – especially with respect to data privacy.
Data and Identity Theft: With the ravaging wave of cybercrime across the globe today, data theft is a major cause for concern, especially with the large volume of personal data collected by these firms.
Should these data fall into the wrong hands, cyber threats such as identity theft begin to set in. Eventually, the company loses revenue and customer trust which is often hardest to gain back.
Asides this, there’s also the issue of overzealous companies collecting more data than required without permission and possibly trading them to other buyers within their circle. This of course, should be illegal but oftentimes users fail to read privacy policies before they accept them thereby sign off their personal data. To curtail all these issues, there are a number of precautions that can be taken by users and they are listed below:
Preventing the Adverse Effect of Customer Data Harvesting
- Use Temporary Details: For services that require a one-time sign-on, it is usually advisable to use temporary email addresses that can be gotten off the Internet for registration and subsequent login. This reduces how much of your details you have out there.
- Use a VPN: Asides accessing geo-restricted services, it is advisable to download a VPN for your devices as this provides an extra layer of security on your data when it transfers over the Internet. In addition, VPNs help shield your Internet activity from your ISPs.
- Disable Location Settings: A number of applications make use of GPS locations to provide personalized services. Disabling this setting on your device, especially when not in use will help prevent your location data from being collected without permission.
- Avoid Suspicious Mails and Links: A good rule of thumb is to look out for SSL encryption on emails and HTTPS prefix on website links in the search bar. More often than not, unsafe or phishing links are not secured.
- Avoid Free Apps and Services: Lots of times, these free applications offer free services for something in return. As you might rightly guess, it is personal data which can either be sold, used to serve ads or used maliciously that are obtained in exchange for free services.