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Control - Big Data - Trust is a Two Way Street

When Donald Trump was elected President, one of the first questions people had was: how could the polls be so wrong? Every major poll had predicted Hillary Clinton, some by a very large margin. How could companies with so much data miss the mark completely?

Maybe the answer is as simple as a lack of trust. Comedian Bill Burr jokes:

“Don’t ever trust the polls. No one answers those things.
If someone calls and says, ‘Hey, why don’t you tell me who you’re going to vote for?’
You’re probably going to say, ‘Hey, why don’t you mind your own business?’”

There may be more truth in this joke than pollsters are comfortable with. It also introduces an important question that every data analyst must ask:

Am I able to trust the information I am receiving?

According to a recent survey, the two leading factors challenging data-driven marketing are:

  • Heightened regulation of personal data or audience
  • Ad blocking

In other words, most of our marketing efforts are not thwarted by a lack of suitable technology, or the latest change to Google’s algorithm. Our biggest obstacle is a lack of connection with the consumer. Big data may provide more information, but it’s debatable whether we have a better relationship with consumers. After all, the younger generation didn’t grow up on phone surveys and newspaper ads. They grew up on Chrome Incognito and YouTube ads that they can skip after 3 seconds.

Big Data from a Consumer Point of View

As Big data analytics become “the Gold Rush” of the decade, we must not lose sight of the consumer’s perspective. Data sets are increasing exponentially, but this does not necessarily mean that they are getting more accurate, or that the conclusions we draw from this information are more insightful than before.

While marketers concern themselves with gathering as much information as possible, consumers ask:

Am I able to trust marketers with this information?

When the answer is No, consumers are less likely to share the information that we are after, and this can lead to mistaken conclusions — as the U.S. Presidency suggests.

Information Week’s article “Big Data Has A Trust Problem” points out that the trust gap could exist within your company as well:

According to Kathy Reece, a business analytics leader at IBM Global Business Services, and one of the authors of the study, less than 47 percent of leaders surveyed report a “strong level of trust” between IT and business departments.

As Big Data analytics becomes increasingly technical, the human aspect can be forgotten, both outside the business and within. Big data means larger data sets — in terms of volume, velocity, and variety — and machine-learning promises to take data analysis even further into the future.

But if we want to trust that our data is accurate, we need to remain trustworthy and transparent about how we use the data we are collecting. After all, in the era of big data, trust is a two-way street. Not only will this provide our customers with additional confidence in their privacy, but it will help provide us with more accurate information.