COMMENT: Securing big data

Organisations learn new ways to extract more value from the collected data
Maria Gonzalez Rodrigo, editor of CommsMEA.
Maria Gonzalez Rodrigo, editor of CommsMEA.

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Analysing big data is offering operators globally the opportunity to know the user better than before. With real time analytics, service providers gather very valuable information about the consumer and by analysing the information they can target the customer better and segment their offers.

Over The Top players (OTTs) are also getting data from the consumer, so they are able to know how the user behaves and what kind of product they want or demand. These players are using these data in order to monetise their investments and offer the user what they want.

Companies need to make sure that security is respected and the data is anonymous, so that the company can have the information but it cannot be related to a specific individual. Data and content has become a digital currency as companies are using it to monetise the data and even sell anonymised data to third parties.

Analysys Mason says that the constraints to offer services using any customer data are often legal rather than technical and covered by data privacy laws. Even if operators conform to legal restrictions, customers’ concerns over data security will still need to be considered before data is sold, and each country has different constraints.

How can the consumer track and control the data that is given to these companies? Are citizens aware of the value of their data? At the end of last year, Orange released a research on consumer attitudes related to how businesses use their personal data. The research found that consumers consider the cumulative value of a common set of their personal data to be worth approximately €170/£140 ($186). However, consumers place a higher value on their data when sharing it with a company they are unfamiliar with – rising to nearly €240/£200 ($262) for the full set of data commonly shared online.

The study said that 77% of consumers stated that it is “very important” or “critical” for mobile operators to inform them about how their data is being used.

Operators need to pay attention to what the consumer is demanding and the awareness of security and privacy are increasing. Operators should ask the customer about their perception of the brand and answer to their transparency demands, as these are key factors to maintain customers. According to Orange, 67% of respondents believe organisations benefit the most from the sharing of data, and just 6% believe the consumer benefits the most— illustrating a pronounced sense of imbalance in the data-sharing relationship between consumers and businesses.

In order to monetise the analysed data, telcos should also respect customers’ demands to know what they are doing with their data.

Consumers now have tools to know how OTTs are using their data and what information they are providing to the company. An example will be the application Citizen ME, which allows the user to see how some applications installed in their mobile phones are using their data.

“You signed up to the service, you agreed to the terms. But what do they actually mean for your data and digital rights? We’ve translated the agreements of popular online services so they’re easily understood – and we’re adding new services all the time. When terms are updated, you’ll be notified. A simple traffic light system lets you know if the change is good (green), neutral (amber) or potentially bad (red),” it explains in its website.

This app explains to the user how operators monetise the personal data that telcos and apps get from the consumer.

“The commercial future of the free Internet depends on the certainty that your data is transparent, can be self-managed, and if you wish, transacted for your own benefit,” Citizen ME team claims.

The discontentment from the consumer when companies use their data in an opaque way is an increasing area of concern. Operators need to answer to this demand, utilising the big data to offer better packages to the consumer and setting security and privacy as the priority for consumers.

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