The Economist famously reported that ‘the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data’.*

Whether you agree with this premise or not, one thing is undeniably true—data and information are extremely valuable assets for modern businesses, far more than they have been in the past. This new abundance of data represents great opportunity to improve products and services, leading to enhanced customer experiences, which in turn generate more data. And advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning mean improvements can be targeted to specific demographics, which results in more personalised experiences.

For Market Force Information, data is a powerful tool for insights into exactly what businesses need to invest in to give consumers the best customer experience at each location. Each month, we collect customer experience data from millions of customer and employee surveys, in-store audits, 100,000 mystery shops, more than 100,000 inbound calls to our contact centers, and social media. In addition, we often marry this data to financials for insight into exactly what actions result in the highest ROI for each location to improve the customer experience.

Yet, as with any asset, data can also be a liability. Recent high-profile data breaches, like Equifax, have shown how exposed our personal data can be. In response to increasing privacy concerns, legislative changes in Europe such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force May 2018, highlight the importance of data security. GDPR seeks to give individuals control over their personal data. Under GDPR, failure to protect data can result in significant penalties for companies, to the tune of 4% of their worldwide revenues. GDPR regulates the export of data outside of the European Union; that means that any company that has operations in the EU must pay attention to the requirements of the regulation.

Here at Market Force, we understand and recognise the importance of keeping data secure, and take considerable steps to ensure our clients’ data is secure and protected.

Some of the ways we ensure clients’ data is secure          
  • Safeguards: We maintain a robust information security program to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data, which include administrative, physical and technical security controls. For example, the various databases on which personal data is stored have multi-layered security features built into them, and our vendors who provide us with platforms that process this data are vetted for data protection and security compliance as well as ensuring that data residency requirements are maintained. Access to personal data is restricted on a ‘least-privileged’ basis and our employees are required to enter into non-disclosure agreements before access is afforded to them; they may only access the database for legitimate pre-authorised purposes. Access is password protected and Market Force also has in place audit logs, intrusion detection software, anti-virus or malware protection and system integrity tools to further protect data stored on these databases, as well as appropriate back ups.

  • Governance: We have appointed a Data Protection Officer to oversee data protection compliance across the company.  The Officer is responsible for maintaining an accountable privacy management programme designed to protect privacy, and for proposing policies and procedures to earn and maintain stakeholder trust in our data handling practices. We will continue to review our programme to ensure it is relevant, remains current with changing technologies and laws, and continues to meet evolving needs;

  • Training: We take privacy and security training and awareness seriously, and we use a variety of different methods to support our employees who have access to personal data, to ensure that privacy is respected;
  • Privacy by Design: We have embraced the principles of Privacy by Design, striving to embed these privacy-enhancing principles into all of our product and service development processes;
  • Accuracy: We strive to keep your personal data as accurate and up-to-date as is reasonably necessary for the purposes identified above. Of course we need your help in doing this;
  • Transparency: We are committed to being transparent with you about how we handle your personal information, including through our privacy policies and documentation.

Data security is not a one-time programme. Instead, data security requires on-going vigilance to adapt to a constantly changing technological landscape, adoption of new technologies to protect data, and regular training of staff. Market Force’s commitment to our clients is that we are not just following the spirit of the new GDPR rules, but that we are embracing data security as a fundamental part of our business.

To learn more about our data security program, schedule a briefing below.

* 6 May 2017, 'The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data,' The Economist

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Neil Saddington is the Data Protection Officer at Market Force and has been with the company for eight years. He is an experienced project manager with a graduate diploma in law and is currently completing a LLM with a specialisation in data protection and information rights.