Mapping Knowledge – Clear Data Transparency in a Complex World

Gemma Harvey, Clever Software Group


The mentality towards the way we share our personal data online is changing. We are becoming more educated about how organisations process and store the information we share. It could be argued that an air of naivety was attached to the way we would freely share sensitive information online, without questioning why we were being asked for it, or how it would be used. As we move forward on the Road to Bern and the prepare for the 2021 UN World Data Forum, it is worth exploring how data transparency is a vital, invaluable aspect to implement in an increasingly digital world.

Covid-19 has drastically increased the digital transformation of a staggering number of sectors, including the healthcare and education industries. Cloud-based software solutions are leading the forefront of data storage systems and with this in mind, investing in better data transparency now will benefit a multitude of parties in the long run, allowing a less complex, unjumbled outlook on data usage in the future.

Give detailed reasoning as to why certain data is required

In 2018, nearly 50% of all UK adults expressed that they were ‘very concerned’ about how their personal data was being used. Ironically, this stat coincides with the 2018 implementation of GDPR guidance; because of this, businesses began to re-establish the correlation of how they used consumer data and the trust individuals placed in organisational data practices.

Despite having unreservedly disclosed this information in the first place, consumers often have the afterthought of wanting to comprehend how the data they share is being utilized. People want to understand that their data privacy is being respected and not abused, whilst also continuing to receive personalised experiences from specific services. What is not widely acknowledged is that these uniquely designed capabilities cannot be implemented and executed by companies, without the access and understanding of user data.

Putting it simply, users require a clear visualisation of why they are being asked to relinquish certain information and how it is intended on being used. Companies are being urged to reduce the opacity of data strategies, in order for consumers to feel less uneasy about their data being shared to an unknown entity. Simple disclosures are not cutting the mustard anymore and gaining confidence from consumers, through transparent data strategies, will create a vital competitive advantages.

Gaining correct permissions from consumers will influence trust

One important factor to remember is that the information being collected belongs to real humans. Data is not a form of currency that can be freely exchanged, causing a need to be mindful of requiring data strategies to become more human-centred. Taking this into account, gaining the correct consents from consumers by allowing them the option to select what they wish to sign up for, with the possibility to opt out at any time, will allow consumers to feel involved with the retrieval of their data, and not alienated from the process. This involvement will create a layer of trust and remove the impression of being tricked into divulging sensitive information.

On average, only 25% of individuals are aware of what their data footprint consists of. Building trust with consumers through data transparency isn’t something that will magically happen overnight; it will take a dedicated amount of company time and effort, but the results will be radical. Consumers will be more likely to reward corporations with their attention and business, if they are aware of how companies intend to use their data.

Data transparency is revolutionising the world around us and can be utilized to build client loyalty and in turn cement stronger, revenue enhancing bonds. Data transparency is just as important at the data harvesting itself, so businesses will greatly benefit from implementing a customer-first approach and in time, reap the rewards.

Allow consumers to have control of how their data is used

Data can pave the way to deeply personalised experiences, leaving customers in awe of the service received by a provider. The wider consumer population is becoming increasingly more aware of how impactful the disclosure of their data and personal information can be, causing a massive shift in the quality of worldwide data standards and practices. It is important to respect the wishes of consumers; if they wish for their data to remain untouched, this must be honoured. One bad experience with obscured data transparency can be detrimental to a companies reputation and is something that wants to be avoided at all costs.

Companies are beginning to understand how much value consumers place on their sensitive data and because of this, are tailoring experiences to offer appropriate benefit in return for the exchange of data. On the other hand, customers are starting to appreciate that the trade of data can allow providers to create entertaining services and life-easing experiences; neither client or company wants the clock to turn back on these budding opportunities, due to the rapid advancement in technologies.

As more and more software systems become interconnected, both internally and externally, new challenges, threats and prospects will appear, increasing the theme of ‘Big Data’ to consumers and employees alike. Big data is not necessarily the answer to the worlds problems, but it will allow us all to become better connected and create a voice for everyone. By allowing consumers to take back ownership of their data, companies will be able to convey how data sharing is forming new opportunities and values in a clear, unhindered fashion.