But with these questions comes a recognition that the once-imagined future is less distant than we may think. A digitally enabled household no longer means simply maintaining a personal Internet connection or even syncing portable devices to a home network. Now, the digital home is becoming a conscious home — one that adapts and responds according to our behavior.
Cutting-edge devices like the smart thermostat might be low on the adoption curve today, but consumer appetite is evident. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that more than a third of US online adults are interested in using technology to remotely control their home’s lighting, energy, and security:
As 2013 comes to a close, it's clear to me that much of the rhetoric about privacy's death was not only premature but downright wrong. Just in this past week, there have been several events that point to how very alive and critically important the topic of privacy is:
The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation released a report (in advance of a public hearing) about the practices of the data brokerage industry, and how they impact consumers. The report claims that "data brokers operate behind a veil of secrecy, subject to limited statutory consumer protections." This certainly portends the possibility of new legislation being introduced by the committee in 2014.
US District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the bulk collection of millions of Americans' call records likely violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. While conflating surveillance with marketing privacy is a dangerous thing, I suspect that this ruling will draw further attention to the volume, scale, and methods of data collection, irrespective of who's doing the collecting.
Most marketers and customer intelligence (CI) pros tend to lump together most types of customer data. Sure, things like passwords and social security numbers are considered more "sensitive," but for the most part, the systems that protect all the data -- and the privacy policies that communicate their capture and governance -- are largely the same.
Individuals see different types of data differently -- they're most worried about what we consider individual identity data, and far less concerned about the capture and use of their behavioral data.
Most consumers are willing to share their data in exchange for value. But, what they consider "valuable" is very age-dependent -- in other words, the same consumer isn't equally motivated by discounts and cash rewards.
I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from our annual The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2011, US report. This data-rich report is an institution in the US, covering a range of topics on consumers and technology. For those of you who aren't familiar with our benchmark report, it's based on Forrester's annual survey that we've been fielding since 1998 and for which we interview close to 60,000 US adults. In fact, almost anything related to consumers and their use of and interest in technology can be found in this study.
In this year’s report, like last year, we segmented consumers by generation, examining Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. This view continues to provide some very interesting and actionable consumer insights into how technology behaviors vary across generations. For example, younger generations are more active on social networks; however, of those Boomers who are using social media, a similar percentage has a Facebook account or a LinkedIn account as their younger counterparts. The younger generations are far more likely to have a Twitter or MySpace account, though.
The theme of this year’s report is connectivity: How are the different generations using technology inside and outside the home and which devices do they use? Here are a few interesting general insights that we uncovered:
Frank Gertsenberger, VP of Product Marketing for Audience Science wrapped up day one with an excellent update on privacy concerns and expected changes due to FTC and congressional work on behavioral advertising policy.
The concern is that even though data is being collected anonymously, when enough anonymous data points are collected, is an individual still anonymous?
Four entities are running concurrently to tackle this challenge:
The FTC began investigating data practices about two years ago and determined that the risk with behavioral marketing is that consumers are not aware of what data is being collected; current privacy policies are insufficient at explaining how consumer data is employed with behavioral marketing.
Congress – A subcommittee was convened last year to quantify the value of behavioral marketing in order to determine its value in the online economy. Through studies supported by the NAI (the network advertising initiative), Congress now understands this and is outlining a policy outlining what the baseline protections should be for consumers.
NAI– A membership organization which now represents more than 80% of all online ad spend, and created studies focused on answering Congress' need to value behavioral marketing. Also helps audit member sites to aid compliance efforts.
The Associations – This is a collection of online advertising associations like the DMA (direct marketing association), the IAB (interactive advertising bureau) and the ANA (association of national advertisers). This group is taking a pass at developing requirements for providing enhanced notice to consumers.