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8/16/2005
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Data Breaches Threaten Customer Intelligence

Data that can't be gathered, can't be analyzed. And that's why business intelligence pros should start paying attention to the parade of data that's marching out of supposedly secure servers at organizations of every size and stripe. According to findings from personalization software maker ChoiceStream, 63 percent of consumers in a recent survey say they fear for the security of the personal data they provide to Web sites.

Data that can't be gathered, can't be analyzed. And that's why business intelligence pros should start paying attention to the parade of data that's marching out of supposedly secure servers at organizations of every size and stripe.

According to findings from personalization software maker ChoiceStream, 63 percent of consumers in a recent survey say they fear for the security of the personal data they provide to Web sites.It's difficult to get BI practitioners to pay attention to IT security, unless their shop is so small that they happen to personally work on both fronts. For the most part, the analytics gurus figure that, hey, data protection is the responsibility of the security guy across the hall. But that will change if security snafus start crimping the flow of data that BI staff need in order to carry out customer analytics.

When will such a state of affairs come to pass? The answer is probably no time soon. The same ChoiceStream survey of almost 1,000 consumers found that 80 percent of respondents still want personalized online experiences. That means many are likely to continue handing over information on themselves.

But consumers are fickle sorts, as any marketing, promotions, retail or merchandising person can tell you. ChoiceStream says that only 46 percent of the consumers they polled are now willing to trade demographic data for a more personalized online experience. That's down from 57 percent last year.

Is it time to panic? No. But it's time for BI practitioners to begin taking notice -- and speaking up -- about their in-house IT security practices.

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