For most of us, the trials and tribulations of everyday family life are enough to cope with without consciously adding to the list of things to think (or worry) about. Maybe that’s why the main driver of consumer behaviour is cognitive dissonance or the desire to avoid anything which makes us uncomfortable with any decision that we might make. It’s the psychological driver of such behaviours as brand loyalty or our repeated selection of restaurants where we’ve previously had a good experience and underpins the way in which consumers approach the generic task of shopping. In the analysis of human behaviour, ‘shopping’ covers far more than the simple exchange of money for goods or services and extends to the wider margins of meeting most of our everyday needs and it is this widening of our reliance on ‘self’ that has harnessed and fuelled the digital revolution.
In turn, our individual fortresses of self have a wide range of intimate possessions, ranging from fears and concerns to personal data, personal memories, aspirations and ambitions alongside personal and business relationships on both a one-to-one and a generic basis. The more complex our societies become, the more ‘stuff’ we acquire and feel the need to preserve and, if a portable but safe place can be found to store our stuff, the readier we find ourselves to tackle the challenges and opportunities of modern life. Digital providers have served up an enticing array of ways in which we can carry, store and share our precious items and, across the generations, it is now commonplace to trust the digital establishment with personal data even including our financial details and our personal identity. There are generational differences in the way we view these opportunities but cloud-based data storage is becoming the default method for most of us to share files in today’s world.
So far so good…
Some of us have a workplace need to store and share data securely while others, like me, occupy a sort of half-way house position, storing some data and files in paper form while being happy to share other data across the ether. Most of us are sufficiently brand aware to feel confident in entrusting our precious financial data to one of the big banks and to use the tools they provide to move money in and out of our accounts without a second thought and anyone living in London will be touching their Oyster card several times a day onto a public terminal point while millions of us casually pay for a coffee with our credit or debit cards with casual abandon.
It’s only when it goes wrong, when TSB had its meltdown or any of another score of other incidents that highlight the vulnerability of our data do we get excitable about security although, for most of the TSB customers it was the prolonged inconvenience that troubled them most. In reality, while most businesses take digital security very seriously, very few individuals seem to give it a passing thought and have no qualms about dropping hundreds of images and files into Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive. Many of us have had a busy time over a pint or two explaining that the small print on iCloud makes it clear that iCloud retains the right to use any images that we entrust to its care and, while it’s not remotely likely that a picture of you and Auntie Lil on the beach at Brighton will ever appear in Apple’s advertising, it would be entirely legal for him to do so.
Perhaps of more concern is the silent harvesting of data for use or resale by persons known or unknown. Every one of us will have received emails and other communication from persons and companies we have never heard of who have bought our data from lists that are openly on sale. Few, if any, of us will have knowingly provided that data and we should all be affronted by such commercial exploitation. But we’re not, not really. Instead we largely shrug and assume that this is the price of doing business in a digital world. So, when Spotify rolls out its targeted advertising or Amazon sends you targeted offers based on previous usage or purchases should we see this as a complementary service or as being invasive?
Most people might not think it’s a problem but when we consider the scale of the marketplace, security issues must assume some priority. As an example, Dropbox supports almost every operating platform so it’s available to just about everyone, anywhere and it claims that each day, a billion files are saved to the site. Analysts are concerned that we are generating data faster than we can store it and a recent G2M survey, suggests that “Over 79% of respondents believe that current processing/storage architectures will not be able to handle the amount of data in their industry in the next 5 years.”
The need for safe and secure handling of data becomes increasingly important if company systems fail or become overloaded and, as just two examples, a survey by technical support website FixYa listed ‘missing folders’ as the principal complaint from users of Google Drive while Apple users transferring to OS X Mountain Lion reported problems across a wide range of issues, according to 35% of those surveyed.
The IT industry is working hard to develop and refine even more robust systems to generate, use and store data and it is becoming increasingly clear that for both business and for the man or woman in the street, entrusting our precious data needs to be an educated decision that we take very seriously.
As that man in the street, what do I want? I want someone more knowledgeable than I am to provide a secure and convenient storage service, to be abreast of all the new developments (because I know that I won’t be) and to be accessible and open to sharing information and concerns with me on a regular basis. That’s something that I’m not going to get from giants such as Amazon, Spotify, Dropbox, iCloud or, probably my bank. I long since recognised that I need an accountant to help with my tax returns and a lawyer with legal issues. Now, I fully recognise that we all need data management partners we can trust, with whom we can have an ongoing and developing relationship.
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