“We don’t share our data with anyone”….
It’s a phrase which never ceases to perplex me.
As CTO of Data Republic, I’ve had the privilege to meet with organizations from around the world to discuss their approach to data and technology. Often, the first conversation we have around our Open Data Marketplace results in the comment “we don’t share our data with anyone”.
This statement doesn’t surprise me, because the definition of data sharing is an unclear one at best, varying by industry, business division and country but I find myself having to politely disagree and then prove that they actually do share data regularly with third parties.
Given the frequency of these conversations, I thought I’d put together this blog to share what I believe constitutes data sharing and open it up for some discussion.
Here are some common data sharing activities organizations (perhaps unconsciously) engage in:
- If you collect transactions through a credit card processor, you are sharing the information of your customers with your processor. They know who you do business with and for how much!
- If you bank with a bank, you are sharing that same information and possibly more. They know who you do business with and for how much!
- If you use an accounting package (Quicken, MYOB, Xero, etc), your company’s entire financial profile is collected. They know as much about your company’s interactions and dealings as your finance team.
- If you handle your payroll through an outside company, you are sharing very private information about your employees. The payroll company knows many personal details about your staff.
- If you offer benefits using an outside company: Retirement plans, Medical, Life Insurance, and more, then you are sharing employee data with them. The benefits companies know personal details about your staff.
- If you use a third party to manufacture your goods, then you are likely sharing your most valuable trade secrets and patents with that manufacturer. The outsource or contract manufacturer (CM) knows how to make your product.
- If you create a joint venture with another company, you often have to share immense amounts of data. The JV partners are likely to know much about the inner working of your company.
- If you sell your product or service on a website hosted by someone else such as Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, and more, you are sharing most every detail about your customers, your orders, and even financials with them. Those marketplaces know all of the details about your company’s sales, customer base, product portfolio, ratings, ability to execute, and perhaps even margins.
Marketing & Advertising
- If you have ever bought targeted ads from someone and /or loaded data through a DMP, you are sharing details of your customer segments with the agency. The agency and DMP know much about your target customers and behaviors.
- If your website uses an Analytics tracking plug-in like Google Analytics or Optimizer, then you are sharing the data of every customer visit. Google knows every customer visiting your website.
- If you’ve ever worked with a third party auditor like some of our partners (e.g. Deloitte, KPMG), you are likely sharing immense amounts of highly confidential data with that partner.
Internet of Everything
- If you have company cars, company phones, tractors for your farm, airplanes, manufacturing sensors, and the huge plethora of daily new devices, you are likely transmitting your company’s data back to someone else. Apple, Toyota, John Deere, and more know where your IOT device is, so they know where your customers are, where your farm is, and the status of all of those systems.
- If you use the internet, you share information with the internet provider about every search, every packet, every video watched, every web meeting you’ve had, and more. Not to mention the multiple tracking cookies that you share with various merchants while using the internet. Your internet provider knows a lot about your company’s behaviors, partners, and intent.
It can be eye-opening when you sit back and objectively log the valuable and sensitive data leaving your organization on a daily basis.
The clear issue here isn’t that organizational data is being accessed and leveraged by third parties. Your organization likely receives a service or utility in exchange for that data.
What is surprising is the passive acceptance many organizations have in allowing external parties to build billion-dollar businesses off the back of their first party data. These major players are starting to control significant amounts of the world’s data. The majority of organizations recognize the value of their data but only in a limited sense.
They’re preoccupied with protecting and securing data in siloes rather than leveraging it to acquire maximum yield from the asset. I get it, data sharing and the risk of data leakage can be scary.
But I’m here to tell you that doesn’t have to be.
Our work at Data Republic is centered around delivering the secure infrastructure for companies to de-risk the sharing of data. To empower organizations to make their data ‘more liquid’ and in doing so unlock the commercial value of their data – rather than just passing on the golden egg to others.
If your organization is already sharing data, which it likely is, then it’s time to ask whether you’re getting the better end of the deal?