June imageThe most notable topic this month has been Edward Snowden and the NSA’s Prism program. The news that the NSA was collecting data through backdoor deals with some of the world’s largest technology companies sent shockwaves throughout the country, especially here in Silicon Valley. We thought this was an opportunity to take a closer look into privacy as it relates to personalization and data collection. The articles detailed below raise interesting questions about the privacy debate in light of Prism. Hopefully, these articles will inspire conversations about the state of privacy and data collection in addition to a larger discussion on how we can improve these areas and increase overall transparency.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Personalization,” iMedia Connection – Personalization has great benefits – increased conversion rates, higher AOVs and more engaged customers. However, companies of every size make inadvertent missteps in order to achieve these benefits. In this article, I wanted to share the most common personalization mistakes in order to help organizations avoid the “sins” of personalization. Looking at this month’s theme of privacy, the biggest takeaways are around the collection and use of personally identifiable information (PII). Collect PII only when customers consent, and use customer data only when it benefits the customer. Following this advice in addition to avoiding the other sins, your organization will be ready to execute a personalization strategy that will benefit both your organization and the customer.

Data-Driven Tech Industry Is Shaken by Online Privacy Fears,” The New York Times – In light of NSA’s Prism program, confidence in government and in household technology names including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple is at an all-time low. Privacy is at the heart of this problem, and what the government and other tech companies can learn from this is that today’s consumers demand transparency into what data is being collected and how it is being used. There’s a consensus that there needs to be better regulation regarding the use of personal information, and Box.com CEO Aaron Levie put it best: “The most important issue here is transparency and our lack of visibility around how our data is being used. The government and the tech industry clearly will need to come together to create a better model for this.”

Will the Latest NSA Surveillance Scandal Be a Wake-up Call about the Power of Data?GigaOM – Stacey Higginbotham raises the important point that consumers need to understand that the landscape for data collection has changed drastically. With the proliferation of mobile devices, apps, etc., data collection has increased. In a world where it seems like companies, in addition to the government, are using data in ways consumers have not agreed to, it’s clear that consumers need to be careful what data they are divulging. And in a response to this sentiment, companies need to be more careful with the type of data that is collected and how it is used. A good rule of thumb: Only collect and use data that will improve a customer’s experience. This customer-first mentality will lend itself to current and potential customers, as well as prevent companies from being put in compromising situations.

The Problem Is the Oversight, Not the NSA’s Data Gathering,” Harvard Business Review – In this blog post, Harvard Business Review editor Justin Fox discusses the merits of data collection. He states that it is disconcerting how much information is collected these days; however, he argues the benefits that today’s consumer receives in exchange for information are enormous (think free email and storage services available today, just to name a few). Fox argues that Prism isn’t going to stop the exploding availability of personal data, so we urge Baynote customers to use this type of data transparently and prudently.