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UK digital economy under threat as only 16% agree to data sharing

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With the emergence of the connected era, gaining buy-in from the everyday man for data sharing is becoming critical, however new research has shown we may not be as far along as we think.

The research from GfK offers some encouraging statistics, but also some quite worrying ones. Using a scale from 1-7, consumers were asked whether they were “willing to share my personal data (health, financial, driving records, energy use, etc) in exchange for benefits or rewards like lower costs or personalized service.” Globally, 27% said 7, meaning completely agree, whereas 19% said 1, meaning completely disagree.

It is certainly encouraging there are more people who agree than disagree, however the percentages could be perceived as relatively low concerning the dependence which is being placed on customer’s data for the digitally-enabled business model. If data is the new oil, then almost universal acceptance from consumers on how data will be used will be required.

In certain countries, this appears to be less of a problem than others. China was top of the list in terms of people who would completely agree to sharing their data, with 38% of respondents agreeing, with Mexico in second at 30% and Russia in third with 29%. Perhaps there should be little surprise at these statistics, as a stereotypical attitude is that personal information has being monitored in both China and Russia by the government for decades, with no reward or benefit. Some may ask whether anything is actually changing.

The UK is another country where the statistics are slightly worrying; only 16% of the respondents agreeing completely. It has been a generic assumption to date that the UK is slightly behind global trends when it comes to adapting to the digital era, and this point only adds weight to the theory.

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When it comes to the countries who had the highest levels of disagreement with the statement, Germany and France topped the list with 40% and 37% respectively. These seem like alarmingly large numbers, but considering the privacy-sensitive nature of regulations and legislation in the countries, it is perhaps unsurprising these attitudes have trickled down to the general public. The Netherlands and Belgium also featured quite highly in the disagreement ranking suggested the European Union may face some difficulties when migrating through to the digital economy which will be funded by the flow of information and insight.

The research on the whole suggest twos things in particular. Firstly, in some countries there is perhaps a misunderstanding on what the new economy is underpinned by. With the abundance of free content on the internet, consumers are becoming less inclined to pay for content, however there may be a misinterpretation of how this free content is funded. Without the consumer allowing the providers of the content access and freedom to monetize personal information, how long will the content remain free?

Secondly, the connected era is not far away, but certain countries may struggle to adapt. Germany for instance, as well as the UK, are examples where the attitudes of the consumer are contradictory to the digitally defined economy, where data is the currency. For connected era, where internet companies are fuelling growth and a prosperous economy, the acceptance of data sharing is critical. Some work needs to be done for this to be a reality.


One comment

  1. Andy Tiller 30/01/2017 @ 4:26 pm

    This is quite interesting to understand how attitudes differ in different countries, but “Willingness to share personal data in exchange for benefits or rewards” is a very generic statement. For most people, I suspect, the willingness is very dependent on who the data is shared with, and the nature of the reward.

    For example, I might be willing to share my data with Virgin Media’s marketing partners in exchange for free Wi-Fi in their country-side hot spots (in fact, I just signed up for this earlier today), whereas I might be much less willing to share my data with a gaming app provider. Also, I might have a different attitude to allowing Google to use my data (because they give me free email, maps and other useful stuff) compared to allowing BT to use it (because I’m already paying BT for the services they provide).

    Furthermore, I wonder if the way the question is phrased in different languages could have very subtly different meanings – if so, the results could potentially be skewed.

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