Looking Through the PRISM: Three Customer Data Lessons

The controversial PRISM program, a secret electronic surveillance effort led by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that allegedly included collecting information about private citizens, has dominated the news lately, especially in America and Europe.

One might assume that the major business take-away from PRISM is that consumers will zealously guard their privacy and that customer data is largely off limits. But a surprising global survey (conducted by market research firm Coleman Parkes on behalf of Amdocs) of 3,900 consumers actually found that many people are more than willing to share their data with service providers, if they perceive value in doing so.

Lesson 1: OTT Players Are Currently Well Positioned

According to published reports, who did the NSA approach when it wanted personal information on selected targets? Over-the-top players such as Google, Facebook, etc. Only a few short years ago, NSA would have been more likely to approach traditional service providers, but today it seems clear that OTT players own more, and sometimes better, customer data.

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Consumers are willing to share

OTT players such as Amazon, eBay, Netflix and Google have been gathering and analyzing customer data for some time. By aggregating their customer data into a unified view on their users’ motivations, actions and behaviors, they are effectively utilizing the data to generate a personalized experience for their customers, while at the same time selling the data to third parties for the purpose of generating personalized and targeted ad campaigns.


Lesson 2:  Consumers And Citizens Are Different

A significant amount of people are up in arms about the PRISM program, because the idea of a government monitoring its people without permission can be frightening. Others believe this is a valuable tool for fighting terror. A poll conducted by Pew Research found that 56% of Americans feel that phone tracking is an acceptable way to fight terrorism, while 41% say it is unacceptable.

Of course, those that were being monitored didn’t consent to handing over their data and they received nothing positive in return.

Consumers, meanwhile, are extremely willing to waive their privacy concerns, according to Amdocs’ recent survey. It conclusively showed that most consumers are willing to share extensive personal data, including family information and social network profiles, in return for an improved experience from their service providers. Sixty-three percent of customers see value in sharing their personal data with service providers.

 Lesson 3: Customer Data Is Becoming a New Currency

Is anyone surprised that the NSA and the American government perceive great value in obtaining customer data? Such data really does provide an amazing, in-depth profile of a person’s life.

Service providers and OTT players also understand that customer data is a key for uncovering significant customer insights and developing new revenue streams, and as we said earlier, customers are actually willing to share this data with them, in return for rewards. In fact, 57 percent of consumers are willing to share additional personal information – such as their location, top five Facebook friends’ names and personal information about family members – in return for financial rewards or better service.

Furthermore, 54 percent of the consumers surveyed by Coleman Parkes said they would even allow their personal data to be passed on to a third party under the right conditions, which shows that customer data has the potential to become a new form of industry currency.

Service Providers Should be Optimistic

OTT players are currently strong, but there is a lot of room for service provider optimism. The Amdocs survey found that over half of all consumers (56 percent) consider their service providers to be trustworthy. This is good news for service providers, who are well-positioned to introduce new business models, such as selling data to third parties. Service providers possess items of tremendous value, including a wealth of structured and unstructured consumer data, as well as an established relationship with their customers, which they can leverage to stay ahead and exploit the new revenue potential of Big Data and the customer insights it generates.

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