Why CIOs Should Care About Privacy

Customers will judge your company’s competence according to how well you protect their data, says Don Peppers, co-founder of customer relationship advisory firm Peppers & Rogers Group. CIOs are on the front line.

What accounts for the generational divide on privacy?

Privacy is part of personal data hygiene. If you ask a 17-year-old if they’re worried about protecting their privacy, you get a puzzled look.

I had this conversation with my son. I asked, "What if you're trying to get a job when you're 40 and your employer calls this stuff up on your Facebook page?" He said, "Don't you think my employer will have his own stuff to worry about on Facebook?"

He had a point. They will take precautions, but they're not obsessed about privacy protection. That obsession is an artifact of the pre-Internet world. Remember when you got your first cellphone? You never wanted to give your number out because people might call you and try to sell you stuff. People were the same way with email addresses, too.

Why should CIOs care about privacy?

The Sony PlayStation data breach illustrates an important aspect of privacy protection and its relationship to customer trust. Trustworthiness is going to be more important as the volume and speed of interactions between customers and companies go up. Our standards for what constitutes trustworthy behavior will be more demanding and less forgiving. Violating a customer's privacy will be found to be even more egregious in the future than it is today.

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