In 2010, Google’s Eric Schmidt stated that as much data is produced every two days as was created from the dawn of time until 2003. Five years later, we can only expect that number to have increased—and to continue to do so, as the Internet of Things makes even more data available.

With this explosion of data, companies have opportunities to deliver better customer outcomes, unlock new ways of doing business and optimize processes. But as I indicated last week, there are some challenges to using personal data for business purposes. To continue that discussion:

  • Some consumers are going off-grid. As consumers become more careful with their personal data, new technologies are emerging to help them go off-grid through anonymous Internet use. More extensive use of these privacy-enhancing technologies could reduce the quality of customer data available for business use.
  • Regulation is changing the rules. While the pace of change has kept ahead of regulatory changes, many governments are stepping up their responses to data privacy—and Accenture research found that 72 percent of respondents to a global survey of business professionals think that can help improve clarity about the appropriate use of personal data.
  • Watchdogs are increasing scrutiny. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are working to scrutinize business data practices, and draw clearer distinctions between those that manage data ethically and those that don’t. In principle, consumers can turn to groups like this to make more informed decisions about with whom to share their data.

In short, personal data can help businesses in a number of ways, from targeting marketing and distribution efforts to improving the customer experience—but insurers must understand the challenges that lie ahead, and be able to capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves.

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