To Deliver Better Customer Experiences, Put Privacy-Enhancing Technologies to Work

Think of all the great customer experiences you’ve had. A delightful email from your favorite coffee brand on your birthday. The perfect gift recommendation for a hard-to-please relative. The unexpected upgrade at a hotel you used to book regularly but have not been to in ages. What’s behind them all? Seamless customer intelligence.

The ability to consistently anticipate and understand customer needs is table stakes at a time when loyalty is harder to earn and maintain than ever before. However, increased regulation and heightened privacy awareness has made it challenging to access and connect the data that can lead to those surprise and delight moments we’ve all had. This is where data collaboration can fill in the gaps, provided privacy remains ironclad in pursuit of greater data utility. This assurance has been challenging for many to implement at scale—until now.

If you had previously explored data collaboration only to have your initiatives stall due to a misalignment among business needs, technical capabilities, and security and legal requirements, it’s time to restart those conversations. Once the purview of large corporations with the resources and personnel to build and manage their own infrastructure for powering these relationships, data collaboration has become more mainstream through the broader application of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) for maintaining data utility and privacy.

Democratizing data collaboration through PETs

PETs aren’t new. They’ve been humming in the background for decades to preserve governmental agencies’ and highly regulated industries’ sensitive information—such as satellite locations, bank statements and medical images—enabling permissioned parties to safely translate between identity spaces and access information without having to move or copy the data. Recent advances have landed PETs on Gartner’s list of top strategic technology trends for 2021.

Today, PETs are on the radar of more companies seeking to build a competitive advantage through safely and securely connecting disparate datasets, surfacing new insights and creating differentiated business value. They can be leveraged across a number of industries and scenarios.

Retailers with valuable data assets can set up a retail media network to jumpstart a new revenue stream, as Carrefour has with Carrefour Links, its customer intelligence platform, now live in nine global markets.

Healthcare providers can collaborate with peer organizations to securely analyze sensitive information and surface potentially life-saving insights, as Duke, Johns Hopkins and others have done through joining the Covid-19 CHARGE Consortium.

Publishers or TV providers with a strong authenticated data set can provide more insightful analytics to their advertisers, which will encourage them to increase their media spend and enable enhanced viewership experiences.

PETs in concert with legal and security mechanisms

A key to successfully employing PETs in your data collaboration strategy is understanding that they aren’t the lynchpin to pushing out the frontier of data utility while maintaining privacy. PETs must work in concert with legal and security mechanisms in order to deliver on this promise.

Here’s a detailed scenario: Say you are a retailer working with a CPG partner. To reduce risk and protect your customer data, you can legally state that any data use must prohibit attempted re-identification. You can also require technical guidelines for how you’ll be working together that may include multi-factor authentication, audit logging and other security approaches. This means that each data analyst, whether from your side or the CPG’s, must have clear permission to access the secure collaborative environment and understand that their work is subject to audit. Layering in additional protections through PETs such as a query engine that leverages differential privacy can strengthen your data protection even further.

Secure your competitive advantage

There’s no limit to how security and privacy mechanisms, inclusive of PETs, can be combined in service of more innovative, secure data collaboration. Once you begin your journey of building more strategic data partnerships through the right investments in teams and technology, you’ll lay the foundation not only for better customer experiences, but also for elevating enterprise-wide intelligence and securing your competitive advantage.