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As AI sweeps into top-priority status, 9 in 10 companies admit privacy needs more attention

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Public Relations

Despite a difficult economic environment, brands and businesses are continuing to invest in privacy—spending is up significantly from $1.2 million just three years ago to $2.7 million this year—and more than 9 out of 10 (92 percent) believe their organization needs to do more to reassure customers about their data in the age of AI, new research from Cisco reveals.

The firm’s sixth annual 2023 Data Privacy Benchmark Study, which investigates business professionals’ perspectives on data privacy strategies, also finds that organizations’ privacy priorities differ from those expressed by consumers.

Priorities for building consumer trust:

As AI sweeps into top-priority status, 9 in 10 companies admit privacy needs more attention

Disconnect between consumers’ expectations and organizations’ privacy strategies

The study finds a significant disconnect between data privacy measures by companies and what consumers expect from organizations—especially when it relates to how organizations apply and use AI.

The research shows that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about how organizations apply and use AI today, and 65 percent have already lost trust in organizations over their AI practices. Consumers also said the top approach for making them more comfortable would be to provide opportunities for them to opt out of AI-based solutions—but providing opt-out opportunities was selected least (22 percent) among the options that companies would put in place to reassure consumers.

How consumers see it: Approaches for making consumers more comfortable with AI:

As AI sweeps into top-priority status, 9 in 10 companies admit privacy needs more attention

“When it comes to earning and building trust, compliance is not enough,” said Harvey Jang, Cisco vice president and chief privacy officer, in a news release. Transparency was the top priority for consumers (39 percent) to trust companies, while organizations surveyed felt compliance was the number one priority for building customer trust (30 percent).

Even though 96 percent of organizations believe they have processes in place to meet the responsible and ethical standards that customers expect for AI-based solutions and services, 92 percent of respondents believe their organization needs to do more to reassure customers about their data.

How companies see it: Approaches for making consumers more comfortable with AI:

As AI sweeps into top-priority status, 9 in 10 companies admit privacy needs more attention

Privacy’s return on investment

Over 70 percent of organizations surveyed indicated they were getting “significant” or “very significant” benefits from privacy investments, such as building trust with customers, reducing sales delays, or mitigating losses from data breaches. On average, organizations are getting benefits estimated to be 1.8 times spending, and 94 percent of all respondents indicated they believe the benefits of privacy outweigh the costs overall.

With privacy as a critical business priority, more organizations recognize that everyone across their organization plays a vital role in protecting data. This year, 95 percent of respondents said that “all of their employees” need to know how to protect data privacy.

Companies are recognizing business benefits of privacy investment:

As AI sweeps into top-priority status, 9 in 10 companies admit privacy needs more attention

“An organization’s approach to privacy impacts more than compliance,” said Dev Stahlkopf, Cisco executive vice president and chief legal officer, in the release. “Investment in privacy drives business value across sales, security, operations, and most importantly, trust.”

Costs of data localization and greater trust in global providers

Privacy legislation plays an important role in enabling governments to hold organizations accountable for how they manage personal data, and 157 countries (up from 145 last year) now have privacy laws in place. Even though complying with these laws involves significant effort and cost, 79 percent of all corporate respondents said privacy laws have had a positive impact.

Although 88 percent of respondents believe their data would be safer if stored only within their country or region, research indicates this does not hold up once costs, security and other trade-offs are considered. Remarkably, 90 percent also said that a global provider, operating at scale, can better protect the data compared to local providers.

Download the full study here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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