Companies are collecting growing volumes of consumer data as they seek to better target shoppers. But a raft of coming new regulations and growing unease from customers could turn these Big Data investments into liabilities. And reversing gear on data collection in the years ahead could be costly for firms now putting Big Data in core business strategies.
Chasing the promises of Big Data, and enabled by cheap storage, CIOs have gotten in the habit of holding onto consumer data for unknown future purposes, said Gerald Ferguson, a data privacy attorney at the law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP. That customer data may be laying dormant across dozens of systems, like payment and marketing platforms. To lower Big Data risks, Mr. Ferguson says, companies should maintain an inventory of what personal data is stored and why and if there isn’t a compelling reason to hold onto the information it should be deleted. “Data that you’re storing and not making money off is a liability,” Mr. Ferguson said.