Maintaining Customer Data Privacy – A Competitive Differentiator

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“Data is acknowledged as an important corporate asset that needs to be safeguarded. Loss of information can lead to direct financial losses including lost sales, stiff regulatory penalties, and serious financial impairment,” –

In recent years, the generation of massive amounts of data has informed and moulded the public discourse at many levels. New digital technologies have emerged, while the exponential increases in computing power have defined developments in science, technology, commerce, business, and engineering. Consumers and customers are generating many terabytes of unstructured data every day. This flow of information is valuable from a commercial point of view because it enables companies to know their customers better and develop new revenue streams. However, brands and businesses must work to maintain customer data privacy in the interests of safeguarding commercial operations and to protect the rights of the customers.

The legal and technical frameworks that safeguard privacy already exist; however, firms must boost enforcement so that such protection adheres to the letter and the spirit of the law. In addition, business enterprises must realise that an expert stewardship of customer data privacy can emerge as a valuable competitive differentiator. Further to this statement, a company or a brand must develop a robust privacy policy that details all aspects of data collection and the end-use of such data. Business executives and top management personnel should apprise customers about the application of such privacy policies. Further, any caveats should be clearly spelled out in said policy in an attempt to absolve the business of any outcomes beyond its control. We must note that these actions boost transparency and enable businesses to stand out from competitors and attract more customers.

Outsourcing business processes represents a common tactic in modern corporate operations. Manufacturers and service providers have operated large-scale outsourcing models in a bid to leverage labour arbitrage and other factors. However, customer data privacy should remain an important plank of such activities because data privacy alone can guarantee continued outsourcing operations. To achieve such ends, outsourcing businesses must put in place robust data protection frameworks that safeguard both physical and electronic data. For instance, an outsourced service provider can operate third party processes in conjunction with data privacy mechanisms. Successful operations can enable the business to expand its operations to include multiple clients. Therefore, safeguarding customer data privacy can emerge as a critical differentiator that helps said provider to gain multiple business wins.

Information breaches and the incidence of Internet-borne malware have created substantial negative impacts on corporate bottom lines in recent times. At some levels, these represent system failures that defeated customer data privacy mechanisms at substantive costs to targeted businesses. In response, brands and businesses must work to boost their information security practices and frameworks. For instance, a software developer should work to erect robust firewalls that protect internal systems from unauthorized access. The said firewalls must be monitored and upgraded at regular intervals. This would help to reinforce electronic security. The business can showcase these features to potential clients and claim rightful credit in terms of enforcing a competitive differentiation.

Business development teams and marketing personnel should remain updated in terms of customer data privacy. This is critical because said teams typically make first contact with potential clients and can create a favourable first impression on new clientele. Therefore, brands and businesses must enable data privacy mechanisms to climb out of narrow silos and flow into firm-wide areas of operation. This action can have the effect of sensitising entire teams regarding the essential import of customer data privacy. We note that these exercises should be frequent so that safeguards operate at all levels inside the business organization. Further, businesses must seek to win internationally accepted certifications that vouch for data privacy protocols. The outcomes of these actions can include a burnished business reputation and the custom of multiple clients.

The temporary storage of customer information is an emerging aspect of modern efforts to boost customer data privacy. Some computer scientists and data architects hold the opinion that customer information should not be stored in perpetuity. This approach dictates that corporate users of customer data should destroy the stored information after a limited time span. The destruction ensures that electronic attacks on customer data privacy are foiled before they can be planned and launched. We must note that certain customer mobile apps already enforce such strictures with the express intent of protecting customer generated images and content. In light of the above, we note that brands and businesses should invest time and effort in a bid to refine the procedures that defend customer data privacy.

Traditional business enterprises must safeguard customer data privacy in a bid to stay competitive in modern marketplaces. This is important because said businesses typically collect rudimentary information about their customers; however, over time the database may collect huge amounts of information that may need active safeguards. We note that information that is noted on paper can be simply placed under physical lock-and-key mechanisms. However, electronic information must be sequestered inside reliable security mechanisms. Subsequently, these businesses may showcase their attitudes towards customer data privacy and underline the competitive differentiation.

Secure websites that are protected by https technologies should enable businesses to signal their attitudes toward electronic security. The use of such a flagship web presence underlines the importance of customer data privacy. It also assures customers that their information is securely stored and remains safe from online attacks. These mechanisms are especially important for e-commerce operators because they conduct business in online environments. Further, the said businesses can spotlight these electronic safety mechanisms when they pitch for funding from investors. Similarly, market regulators can appraise the total worth of a business when they take such protective mechanisms into account.

Maintaining customer data privacy also presents itself as a business imperative. Brands and businesses that safeguard customer data privacy would naturally attract mass customer attention. For instance, social networking websites and apps allow their clients and users to conduct certain transactions. The assurance of safety in information protocols would encourage more members of online audiences to transact on these websites, thereby creating a fresh revenue stream for said businesses. Similarly, online payment apps must ensure fail-safe customer data privacy in a bid to gain valuable business credentials. We note that these instances of electronic safety help to burnish business reputations and boost customer goodwill.

Businesses must take the initiative to invite ethical hackers to attempt inroads into corporate electronic networks. These exercises can help businesses to detect flaws in their network security architecture and to work proactively to address these issues. Further, access to sensitive information should be restricted only to authorised personnel and senior management cadre. In the same vein, businesses must work to ensure that certain information silos remain inviolate at all times thereby, preserving the integrity of business information. These actions can cast significant impacts on ensuring customer data privacy.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined the core importance of maintaining customer data privacy in commercial organizations. Every brand and business should make the safety of customer data a top business priority. Any leakages or abuse of such information has the potential to invite damaging and expensive lawsuits, the corrosion of corporate reputations, the loss of market reputations, etc. In light of the above, brands and businesses must institute frameworks that promote data protection abilities.

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