Take a moment to imagine every book in every library, school, home and business in the world. These books, combined, make up just 6 percent of total human data. The remaining 94 percent is digital. We generate data as we move, through every connection, communication, transaction and digital interaction that we have. This has become a huge opportunity for businesses, many of whom use data to gain insight into their clients’ behaviour, with some even using data to create revenue streams. Facebook, for example, utilises data in this way. Advertising revenues – mobile in particular – plays a huge part in companies’ financial results, as advertisers use data on pages we ‘like’ or engage with, apps and websites we use, to deliver highly targeted advertisements.

Apps that we use on our mobile devices are also sharing lots of personal data with third parties, often without our consent. A study has revealed that the most popular smartphone apps send data, on average, to three different online services. This includes names and email addresses, but also personal data such as that gleaned from health and fitness apps. Most of this data, according to a study from Digital Trends, “ended up making its way to Google, Facebook or Yahoo”.

It’s getting personal

It follows that the more data we generate and share, and the more businesses use our data in more ways, the more open we are to having our data compromised. On an almost-daily basis, we read about data breaches, which seem to be getting more frequent, more serious and more personal. Medical records, bank details, even information on our children is being compromised as businesses across all sectors fall victim to intentional and unintentional data breaches.

Apr-Jun 2016 Issue

Pitney Bowes