/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/forresterpredictionsscn6_842952.jpgAnalysts from Forrester Research released the firm’s top privacy predictions for next year, urging companies to rethink approaches as consumer worries increase along with worldwide regulations. The webcast entitled, “Privacy: Make it A 2016 Strategic Initiative or Lose Customers. The Choice Is Yours,” also shared the latest research findings into consumer behaviors around data privacy. Here are the predictions and a few interesting stats.

  1. The European Union (EU) will take its first General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) action in 2016. Having been in the works for a few years, these new regulations will impact every company doing business in the EU, even those without a physical presence in Europe.
  2. Regulators will compete to sooth consumer privacy outrage with massive fines. “We expect to see high numbers when it comes to fines – 5 percent of global revenues or 100 million euros, whichever is greater. These are huge numbers, and enough to drive companies out of business for good,” said Enza Iannopollo, Security and Risk Researcher at Forrester. The firm’s latest surveys bear out the public’s concerns. Fifty-six percent of North American consumers are worried about identity theft, 33 percent worry that their data is being permanently recorded, and 44 percent worry that apps are collecting information without their consent. What’s more, 350,000 consumers have asked Google to remove their information from searches under the Right to be forgotten regulations.
  3. Firms will try and fail to circumvent privacy rules. This has already happened with Google and the French data protection authority, as well as Facebook and the German data protection authority around allowing the use of pseudonyms. Both organizations are facing huge fines for actions managed from their respective U.S. headquarters.
  4. Firms will spend millions on consulting for data protection guidance, similar to investments required to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations earlier this century.
  5. Mobile wallet adoption will change traditional modes of retail data collection. Forrester estimates there will be $83 million worth of mobile payments in 2016, but what many people may not realize is that such purchases are actually nearly anonymous, collecting far less consumer data than websites or even face-to-face sales. Retailers and marketers will need to work around this limited data sharing.
  6. Privacy-friendly features will become part of the “freemium” trend. Google is already experimenting with ways consumers can pay to see fewer ads. Forrester expects companies to create tiered service offerings with privacy levels in mind.
  7. Qualified privacy professionals will have their pick of jobs. Professional marketers and business process experts with certifications and other credentials in privacy will be in high demand, especially as the EU weighs hiring mandates for data protection officers.
  8. Ad blocking will be a privacy battleground pitting consumers and advocacy groups against business. Already 20 percent of consumers have enabled do not track in their browsers, 14 percent are using online cookie trackers, and over 25 percent have enabled an ad blocking tool.

Too often, privacy discussions focus on the cost of personalization versus convenience. But what if consumers could have both?  According to these analysts, with an executive sponsor to champion privacy, along with a “can do” approach to data use, organizations can make privacy a competitive differentiator and opportunity for company growth.

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