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Rise above backlash to extract full benefits from data: new report from Allens

8 November 2018

Australian organisations must move beyond recent high-profile scandals and consumer backlash to embrace the full value of data, according to a new report from Allens.

The report, Benefits over backlash, explores a negative trend in consumer confidence in data use following high-profile scandals in the past 12 months. It urges organisations to move beyond the backlash and continue to unlock the considerable value of data – for both consumers and businesses – by instituting well-governed, transparent and ethical data practices.

'While it's understandable that organisations would take a cautious approach to data in the current environment, it's important that they do not stop or slow investment in data use – the benefits are too great,' said Gavin Smith, Head of Allens' Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practice and co-author of the report.

'Instead, organisations need to invest time and money in building new policies that go beyond pure legal compliance to prioritise trust, transparency and control for consumers.'

This includes a robust, organisation-wide data governance framework - endorsed at the highest levels of the organisation - that establishes agreed principles and practices across the business.

Legal advisers are uniquely placed to lead the development and implementation of this framework, working with senior leadership and across business functions to strike the right balance between risk and reward.

'Consumer trust and data use are not mutually exclusive,' Gavin said.

'However, our research shows that many organisations have some way to go on data governance and strategy. Almost half of ASX 200 privacy policies have not been updated in the past two years, while approximately 70 per cent of ASX 200 boards do not have technology and data experience.

'This is problematic in an era in which the value of data is growing exponentially. Where there is an organisation-wide lack of clarity on data use, we often see barriers to collaboration between business functions.

'By contrast, consistency of practice and approach allows businesses to take full advantage of rapidly emerging opportunities for data exploitation.'

The five steps of the report are designed to guide general counsel as they educate senior leadership and build successful data governance structures.

'A relatively small number of issues or rogue companies should not be allowed to derail the huge benefits of data for businesses, consumers and society more broadly. But organisations need to invest in sophisticated data governance programs, refocus on the ethical use of data, and overhaul their approach to transparency and consumer control,' Gavin said.

Download the Benefits over backlash report.

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Notes for editors.

Allens is a commercial law firm working throughout Australia and Asia. Through its integrated alliance with Linklaters it provides clients access to 40 offices in 28 countries around the world.