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The importance of trust in a data-driven world

by Anna Brown

The importance of trust in a data-driven world.

This week, the Open Data Institute (ODI) released findings from new consumer research, revealing the current attitudes of British adults online towards sharing personal data. Surveying just over 2,000 people, the research revealed some pretty unsurprising statistics such as how 1 in 5 young adults (age 16-24) are comfortable sharing personal data online compared to just 8% of 45-54 year olds, or that 25% of young adults trust social media platforms with their personal data.

However, the findings did bring up a few interesting statistics around the way people feel about personal data being used by organisations. In an increasingly digitalised world, the idea of sharing personal data doesn’t seem to be a big deal to a lot of people if they are seeing an automatic gain. It’s easy enough to autofill your details to get access to free Wi-Fi or give your name and email for a chance to win money off your shopping, but what about the data collection that doesn’t lead to any obvious personal gain?
Later this year the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enable consumers to make subject access requests (asking organisations what data they hold about you, under the Data Protection Act). So when this comes into play, there is every possibility that people who want to know what’s happening with their data will begin to ask companies more frequently, leading to logistical challenge for businesses.

Managing this begins with the issue of trust. The report by ODI reveals that 94% of British adults believe that trust is one of the most important factors in making the decision to share personal data with a company. There needs to be an increased understanding between organisations and the general public about what is done with personal data, and who it is shared with to ensure that a level of confidence is secured.

So how do organisations go about getting consumers to trust them? The report suggests that this is a case of communication, with 33% of respondents agreeing that organisations explaining how personal data is used by them would make them more comfortable in actually sharing their information. It seems then, that education through communication is a must. The British public may be fully immersed in a world where data sharing is the norm, but many are not as aware of where this data goes once they press send.

With 18% of British adults saying they would welcome step-by-step instructions from organisations about how to share data safely, there is a need to improve the data skills of the general public and ensure that organisations are communicating the right information about data usage. With 25th May speeding towards us, there is no better time to prioritise this communication. Transparency around the management of personal data sharing will ensure that consumers are happy with how their information is used and companies won’t be inundated with subject access requests.

GDPR’s impending deadline actually presents a chance for organisations to evaluate how their business is communicating with its customers and actually rectify the issues that are deeply embedded within current day-to-day operations. More importantly, it is a great opportunity to build trust between British consumers and businesses.

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