Overcoming the Legacy of Negotiating Trust for Data Collaboration

By Brian Mullin

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April 8, 2021

This will be a pivotal year for what I’ve dubbed the Protected Data Age. More and more, consumers understand how brands are using their data and are demanding transparency. Consumer privacy regulations are also ramping up globally – just look at the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

All of these laws strictly regulate how businesses can handle the personal information of consumers. New regulations are emerging from all parts of the globe. Those who violate these laws will face major fines. GDPR for example has already resulted in fines totaling €260 million over the last two years.

Yet companies continue to collect and share data using unsecured methods. I really believe that those companies that don’t address and adjust their consumer data handling processes could find themselves facing steep fines and negative brand reputation.

With so much potential risk, why do companies still share data so loosely?

Simple answer, this is the way it’s always been done and change is hard! For decades brands have sent their customer data out of house – to bureaus, co-ops, marketplaces, exchanges and data management platforms – to enhance and draw insights to improve the customer experience and campaign performance.

Unfortunately, the very act of losing custody of consumer data carries inherent risk. You simply can’t know what the receiver of your data will do with it. The uncertainty of possible data leakage, retention, reidentification or worse requires that you negotiate contractual trust – including full internal reviews across departments. This takes up precious time and resources and doesn’t actually solve the problem of losing custody of consumer data.

Negotiating trust takes too much time

A company’s ability to ingest or share data is typically a drawn-out process because there’s overhead involved in establishing trust. Your own legal, InfoSec and compliance teams have requirements that can take months to satisfy – time that could be spent deriving insights that fuel campaigns.

And even once a data partnership is approved, it takes time to share and process the data, which can extend the path to insights by several more months. You also need to test the data, adding even more time and, if the test fails, there’s literally no ROI to an overall timeline that could be as long as a year.

Eliminating trust from data collaboration will reduce the countless hours of people’s time to negotiate and validate a contract. It would also take the sharing, processing and testing exercise from months to days, accelerating the availability of actionable insights for your business.

Stop negotiating trust

After years of contemplating this, I ended up developing a platform, the Karlsgate Identity Exchange, that facilitates the transfer of data without ever exposing consumer identities. The platform not only safeguards PII, it also provides comfort to brands and their partners – especially to the legal, InfoSec and compliance teams. This higher comfort level leads to shorter contract cycles and speedier timelines to insights.

zero trust required graphic

Think about it. If PII never leaves your environment for a partner or third party, you can ensure that data custody is maintained and identities are protected. Security and privacy built directly into the process of data sharing enables zero trust. It’s a game-changer for the industry.

Accelerate new analytic and machine learning go-to-market

An additional benefit of a platform like this is that match logic is transparent and equitable for all sides and counts are automatic and immediately available for use following the match. Data sources can also be added to the mix and evaluated without increasing risks or requiring additional compliance reviews.

If data sets can be safely interrogated by in-house data science teams, this instantly improves insights and enables better decisioning more quickly. Data teams would also be able to work with individual-level signals that are most predictive of audience behavior while avoiding aggregation simply to address privacy risks, because the data never leaves the environment.

Embrace the Protected Data Age, adopt zero-trust data sharing

Be very aware of both consumers’ and regulators’ expectations around data sharing and privacy, both today and in the future. If you rely on a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset you’ll have trouble pivoting to either clean up after a bad data incident or to comply with new regulations.

At the same time, think about how zero trust data sharing can accelerate your internal compliance processes and improve analytics time to market. In a nutshell, those who uncompromisingly secure PII will be compliant and responsible. They will accrue measurable cost and time-saving benefits, while enabling revenue streams faster. That’s a win for everyone: consumers, brands, partners and regulators.