The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released a series WEF Series of Studies on Data Innovationof studies highlighting the importance in updating the way society collects, uses and manages all types of consumer data, which has good insight and direction for marketers, as well.   These studies firmly recommend that any regulation around consumer data and privacy must be modernized to reflect our socially and digitally connected data-driven lifestyle.

Two of the reports produced by WEF with The Boston Consulting Group,  “Unlocking the Value of Personal Data” and “Rethinking Personal Data: Strengthening Trust “ examine how the use of personal data can create enormous value for individuals, marketers and governments.  “The rules governing personal data need to be flexible enough to enable new business models, accommodate technology evolution, enable user trust and meet the requirements for user transparency,” according to the WEF authors.

The “Unlocking” report calls for the establishment of an updated set of global principles that will govern how we share our own personal data, and how marketers, risk assessors, institutions and government collect and use that data.  “Shared principles have been a core part of the governance of personal data for many decades. Principles can serve as the anchor points for global governance and strengthen accountability, predictability and trust,” the WEF authors say.

In recognition of the complexity of these issues, DMA launched the Data Driven Marketing Institute last year to build awareness of how responsible data-driven marketing benefits both consumers and the economy.   As new technologies radically enhance the production and processing of data, they also challenge consumer privacy expectations.  As a result, regulators around the world are wrestling with the question over where the new lines of privacy should be drawn.

These WEF studies support the DMA and industry position that marketers are already and can continue to be responsible stewards of consumer data.  While the WEF studies cover more data ground than our own marketing purview, DMA President & CEO Linda Woolley has noted that some of the findings here can be helpful in DMA  efforts to oppose heedless or ill-designed regulation at the Federal or state level.

Marketers have an opportunity to participate with DMA in many ways – and ensure that blanket protections do not harm marketing activities.   As the WEF studies emphasize, “Context matters.”  Restriction on the responsible use of data – and yet to be discovered responsible uses – will not only remove value for consumers, but put transformative innovations at risk.


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