Can personalisation and privacy coexist?

Will Hayes believes that privacy and personalisation can coexist if brands earn the trust of consumers by using their data for the right reasons. 

As technology advances, organisations continue to take advantage of the benefits new innovations bring. This includes the ability to get to know customers more than ever before, offering each individual a personalised experience. For this to happen, organisations collect data to inform their personalisation, however with recent privacy scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, the question is being put forward – can personalisation and privacy coexist in the age of artificial intelligence (AI)? The simple answer is yes, here’s why:

Understanding personalisation

Organisations use machine learning and AI to take signals like customer behaviour to create more personalised experiences. To customers, this is seen in the form of product suggestions or relevant offers and it showcases a brand’s ability to understand and communicate with their audience. However, for the technology to take these signals, consumers must provide permission – an action most people are happy to do, given how convenient personalisation is.

The majority of people have a basic understanding of how their data is used; they know their online habits are monitored to get an understanding of who they are, allowing organisations to offer basic personalisation. However, as consumers’ demands for hyper-personalisation increase over time, so has the need to collect more information. This information is used to inform organisations’ personalisation strategies and offerings, ultimately providing consumers with a positive customer experience that includes product recommendations, targeted advertising among others.

With the above in mind, it becomes increasingly important for brands to get personalisation right and use customer data for good. Brands should not take customer information for granted, as customers are the ones that provide permission to brands to access their information i.e., they’re trusting brands with their data. If organisations don’t use their information for the right reasons, we’ll see a shift, in which customers are less giving when it comes to their data.

The revolution is coming

Today, organisations hold the power, but that may not ring true tomorrow. Eventually, the balance of power may swing in favour of the consumer as they become armed with the knowledge to make educated decisions on whether the privacy/convenience trade-off is worth it.

Consumers continue to demand transparency from businesses as to how their data is used. As the power returns to the hands of consumers, we’re likely to see them negotiate the value of their data. For example, users could be given the option to opt out of certain information collection in exchange for a reduction in service or monetary penalties.

Personalisation and privacy can absolutely coexist in the age of AI – however, they are arguably at either ends of the spectrum, meaning a level of trade-off is required to enjoy both. Consumers that are happy to consent to data collection will enjoy the benefits of personalisation more than most others. They’ll also experience the convenience of product suggestions and tailored communication, but on the other hand, those that are less-giving with their data will not receive the same personalised customer experience. The role for businesses today is to earn the trust of consumers and reassure them that their data will be used to benefit them. Failure to do so will see businesses offer an inferior customer experience and ultimately fall behind their competitors.

Will Hayes is the CEO at Lucidworks.

Photo by Cody Doherty on Unsplash.