6 minute read 29 Apr 2021
Woman freediving with bottlenose dolphin in Ireland

How organizations can benefit from trusted data

Authors
Kris Lovejoy

EY Global Consulting Cybersecurity Leader

Cybersecurity guru. Married mother of four. Enjoys diving, hiking and refinishing furniture. Lives in McLean, VA.

Tony DeBos

EY Global & EMEIA Data Protection and Privacy Leader; EY EMEIA Financial Services ServiceNow Alliance Leader

Strong sense of team orientation and innovative vision. Entrepreneur and forward-thinker. Team builder. Sports lover. Husband and father of three.

6 minute read 29 Apr 2021

Great things can happen when customers trust your organization. Here’s how you can monetize trusted data today.

In brief
  • Research shows that customers are willing to trust companies with their data, but companies must do it right.
  • At least 42% of customers said they would lose trust in a company that asked for more data than was necessary for their relationship.

Most of the conversations about data privacy are about the failures. The latest mega-breach. The unauthorized sale of personal data. The latest multi-million dollar fine by regulators. But what happens when the data lake is half-full? What opportunities are created when customers actually trust a firm with their personal information? And how do companies monetize this good will, and create lasting competitive advantage?

The value of trust

Despite the headlines, EY research shows that customers are willing to trust companies with their data: it’s just that companies must do it right.

Personal data share

The EY Global Consumer Privacy Survey 2020, found that the COVID-19 pandemic has made customers more willing to share data.

Fifty percent of consumers across all adult age groups affirm that they are more willing to share personal information following COVID. This can include highly sensitive data on health, financial conditions, assets, and personal life.

When customers trust you, the data relationship changes — from restriction to opportunity, from concern to trust

However, the willingness to share data is not unconditional. EY research found very specific situations in which a company can lose the trust of consumer.

Over half (54%) said that if a company shares information with third parties without their consent, they would regard it as a breach of trust. 

Consumers want to feel they have control over their personal information

Just short of half (47%) of respondents said that a major brief would shake their trust in a company.

Control over data
Consumers need assurance that their data is secure

Finally, 42% of consumers said that they would lose trust in a company that captured more data than was necessary for their ongoing relationship.

Consumers do not want to put any more data on the web than they have to

Yet there are instances where companies have earned the trust of their customers, and then have developed new sources of revenue on these stronger customer relationships.

Most global organizations have met the challenges of compliance with the European Union’s GDPR. Now, over 100 countries, states and cities are in effect enacting their own “local GDPRs”. These will create a global maze of regulations and compliance. Data compliance and integrity will no longer be optional — it is fast becoming the law of the land.

Most global organizations have met the challenges of compliance with the European Union’s GDPR. Now, over 100 countries, states and cities are in effect enacting their own “local GDPRs”. These will create a global maze of regulations and compliance. Data compliance and integrity will no longer be optional — it is fast becoming the law of the land.

In the article “How to prepare for global data compliance,” EY examines what emerging data privacy regulations mean for the global enterprise – in higher costs and increased compliance risk.

The upside of trust – monetizing the trusted data relationship

Here are four examples of companies that have earned the trust of their customers — and four models for monetizing the trusted relationship.

1. Super-personalization

A relationship built on trusted data goes beyond just a customized webpage. A global home furnishings retailer integrated image recognition and augmented reality into its annual printed and digital catalogs. Customers then provided highly personal data on their personal tastes, past purchases, and images from within their homes.

Based on this data, customers could use mobile devices to scan the catalog and insert products into their homes — reviewing styles, colors and size against digital replicas of their residences. This allowed the catalog readers to make informed purchases, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and fewer returned sales. Plus happier customers.

2. Creating an ecosystem of products and services

A leading agricultural machinery company created a platform for technology-enabled farmers. It included — by opt-in permission — growers’ data on machinery use, crop selection, planting and harvesting dates, and uses of different seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. This was combined with external data such as weather conditions, transportation costs, and commodity market pricing, and internal data on farm machinery use and maintenance.

With permissioned data as its foundation, the company created an ecosystem of financing sources, commodity buyers, and seed, pesticide and fertilizer producers that provide “members” with lower cost products and services. The trusted ecosystem also increased sales of the company’s tractors, irrigators and combines.

3. Creating a whole new data-driven company

A global building controls manufacturing company had long been the leading provider of rooftop ventilation systems for office buildings and factories. They digitized these units, creating real-time data feeds on customers’ energy consumption and daily usage patterns. With customers’ permission, this trusted supplier combined user and energy utility data on peak market energy pricing.


The result was a whole new digital business. The manufacturer launched an energy management division, authorized by clients to buy-and-sell energy on behalf of its customers, and earning its revenue on the savings. This also increased the sale of units, and generated “sticky” relationships in what had been a commodity market.

4. Trusted data for the public good

The resolution of the COVID-19 crisis will depend on data — data that tracks infection patterns, supports contact tracing, and confirms vaccination rates and efficacy. These analytics depend on disclosure of some of the most sensitive personal data, including health diagnoses and personal relationships.

Recent EY research, Has lockdown made consumers more open to privacy?, has found that consumers are willing to sacrifice their private data for the public good. In a survey of over 1,900 global consumers, 50% agreed that “the COVID-19 pandemic has made me more willing to share my personal information — especially if I know it is contributing towards the research effort/community wellness.” Indeed, it is difficult to see how the pandemic will be stopped without this kind of altruistic spirit.

In conclusion

Many pundits claim that data will be the next source of competitive advantage. But what advantage will you have if your customers do not give you permission to use it?

Companies that are transparent about the information they gather, give customers control of their personal data, and offer fair value in return for it will be trusted and will earn ongoing and even expanded access. Those that conceal how they use personal data and fail to provide value for it stand to lose customers’ trust—and their business. The future belongs to the trusted company with trusted data.

Summary

As it turns out, consumers are willing to share data — if the companies are transparent about it. Once the brands get the trust of their customers, they would be able to monetize it and glean other benefits from it.

About this article

Authors
Kris Lovejoy

EY Global Consulting Cybersecurity Leader

Cybersecurity guru. Married mother of four. Enjoys diving, hiking and refinishing furniture. Lives in McLean, VA.

Tony DeBos

EY Global & EMEIA Data Protection and Privacy Leader; EY EMEIA Financial Services ServiceNow Alliance Leader

Strong sense of team orientation and innovative vision. Entrepreneur and forward-thinker. Team builder. Sports lover. Husband and father of three.