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Data shifts that are steering business strategy


Felix Marx, CEO at Truata, gives us insight to data-driven organizations grappling with the complexities of data legislation and how the dynamics of the workplace have been jolted into a new era.

The proliferation of data that organizations have at their disposal renders meaningless unless they can acclimatize to the new, privacy-focused world that consumers and regulators have demanded. Indeed, 2021 is set to give rise to disruptive data strategies and privacy-centric organizational shifts as businesses race to gain a competitive advantage without compromising on consumer trust. Expect these shifts to garner more attention in the months ahead:

 Privacy labels

If you’ve ever read a privacy policy in its entirety, you are one of few who will know the pain of wasting 18-minutes of your life trying to decipher the incomprehensible disaster. This is exactly why 36 per cent of people have never even attempted to read a privacy policy and why tech giants are facing backlash over confusing privacy updates.

Breaking down the barriers that privacy policies wedge between brands and their consumers will be crucial for businesses that want to lead the way by building trust and transparency around their data use. Apple’s introduction of ‘Privacy Labels’, which provide a bite-sized rundown of data use, is a big step forward in offering a consumer-friendly approach to disclosure, and we can expect to see the forward-thinking brands finding similar solutions to building trust with data use.

Crackdowns on non-compliance

The rapid adoption of online services has undoubtedly helped organizations to survive a tumultuous year. However, the speed of this transition to the online, data-centric world has also created potential privacy pitfalls.

While privacy laws had been struggling to keep up with the rate of data collection, the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 has had a ripple effect around the world, and this can be seen in the passing of laws such as that of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Brazil’s LGPD Privacy Law; it has also led to new rules of play surrounding international data transfers, where the suspension of data flows could also severely impact businesses who fail to implement change.

This global trend and acceleration in data privacy legislation is forcing organizations to wake up to a new reality, a reality in which non-compliance will deliver a severe blow to brand reputation and consumer loyalty, not to mention a hefty fine and long-term business implications for those failing to comply. With the likes of France, Italy, Germany and Spain leading the European crackdown on fines for GDPR infringements, it’s clear that not even the dominant tech powerhouses can shy away from change.

 Data for good

In the last decade, the narratives surrounding data heavily revolved around data for commercial gain, with data being regarded as the oil of the digital era – infinite in its supply and lucrative in its value. However, with more and more awareness over how personal data has been – and continues to be – used to drive profit, and consumers becoming increasingly able to articulate their rights to own their digital selves, the data pendulum is starting to swing from ‘data for gain’ to ‘data for good’ far more favourably.

Big data is already instrumental in making the world better by assisting with global issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how data can be used to monitor and control the spread of a deadly virus. However, it has also flagged privacy concerns over what constitutes ‘data for good’. While the rush to deliver more social good with data is indeed progress, it’s important to realize that ethical and privacy concerns don’t have to be left aside in order to achieve the goal.

If organizations can learn from these debates around ethics, and take steps to create data-driven cultures that hinge on data being used responsibly, then the essence of ‘data for good’ can actually ring true in the commercial context, too, and help to overcome the trust crisis that data has created.


It’s no secret that COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years. This, in turn, has led to masses of data being accumulated, with the human ability to analyze such vast data lakes becoming virtually impossible. With Gartner predicting that 35 per cent of large organizations will either be sellers or buyers of data by 2022, the ROI on tech that can deliver a bite of the big data apple becomes ever more appealing.

In fact, businesses that reported the biggest revenue hits over the last few years acknowledge that they were behind their competitors in their adoption of technologies, so expect the learnings to be taken forward as the forward-thinkers look to harness hyper automation with the goal of increasing AI-driven decision making that can provide real-time, continuous intelligence and open up significant commercial opportunities.

While COVID-19 may have spurred on reactive tech adoption to resolve immediate issues, it will be hyper automation that pushes organizations firmly into a new era of decentralization, where the approach to work and business will change forever.

Data literacy

Ultimately, the organizations that will get ahead and separate themselves from the competition will be those who can adapt with agility to the new way of working with data in a privacy-focused world. It is now imperative that industry leaders develop data literacy within their organization, and this requires a top-down data strategy that ensures that understanding data is not simply viewed as the responsibility of the data analysts, but considered important for all those who rely on insights to complete tasks or take action.

With 64 per cent of businesses investing more than $50 million in their data in 2020, it is critical for executives to ensure that their ability to grow and optimize data use is not hindered by poor data literacy than can lead to data waste and/or data risk. In today’s world, data literacy requires organizations to understand that privacy must also sit at the core of change and learnings.

This, in turn, will assist with appropriate and ethical data use that streamlines and propels businesses forward, rather than stagnating or putting them in jeopardy.

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