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Businesses are investing more heavily in data security and privacy initiatives in response to numerous high-profile breaches. While important in their own right, these efforts could have a strong positive influence on customer engagement.

Vulnerability drives investment in security

The 21st century so far has been the century of data mismanagement. At the individual level, identity theft, cyber-stalking, and other forms of exposure are constant concerns for many; commercially, it is rare that a month goes by without at least one report of accidental exposure or deliberate hacking of customer databases and the potentially sensitive information therein. The 10 largest such failures this century alone encompass the data of more than 4 billion customers, with an incalculable amount of total damage. To catalog all such instances would be a statistician's nightmare, as well as a tremendous source of anxiety for the general public.

Security and privacy are separate issues that are nonetheless closely related. Privacy may be considered what a business is allowed to do with the data it has received or collected from its customers, while security is how it prevents unauthorized access and use of that data by outside forces or rogue elements within the company. Both issues are serious concerns for customers, and therefore of primary importance to the businesses that serve them and wish to continue doing so. Both are also best addressed by creating and following a strict set of rules for handling data and communications.

As discussed in Ovum's ICT Enterprise Insights 2017/18, the need to manage security, identity, and privacy ranks among the top three drivers of proposed IT spend for the coming year. Additionally, concerns over privacy and security are a major barrier to adoption of Internet of Things technology, something that is seen to benefit businesses and customers alike. Ovum believes that solving these issues together opens the gate to better customer engagement and an improved experience surrounding privacy and security.


Figure 1: Top reported global IT trends within organizations


Source: Ovum ICT Enterprise Insights


Figure 2: Top-three barriers to IoT technology deployment within the enterprise


Source: Ovum ICT Enterprise Insights


There are several ways in which a business can leverage its security and privacy controls as a potential boon for customer engagement. Personal reassurance from regular contact with the business would reinforce customer confidence. Advertising this degree of service will help a company present a broader image that it is making a positive effort to protect customers and constituents alike.

Any such upgraded security/privacy system will require customers to take a more active part in defending their data; reminders to update personal information and change passwords will therefore be made as palatable as possible. This will not only strengthen customer experience but may start to train people to be more conscientious about their records and identity. Given that these issues are an afterthought at best for many people, such a development would be all to the good.

This frequent interaction between a business and its customers brings with it an opportunity to monetize the occasion. The customer profile page can be populated with advertisements and links to goods and services appropriate to the individual via marketing analytics. To make this seem less like a cash grab, the smart company will include a preferences section the customer can manage to indicate what is and isn't welcome – in effect opting in to certain products and improving the likelihood of clickthrough.


Further reading

2018 ICT Enterprise Insights in Security and Privacy, INT002-000037 (December 2017)

"Blockchain may improve customer experience, but not today," INT001-000014 (December 2017)


Marshall Lager, Senior analyst, Customer Engagement

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