Published on November 16, 2023, 8:37 pm

A recent survey conducted by Cisco revealed that there is a significant gap between consumers’ expectations and organizations’ privacy strategies when it comes to data protection. According to the survey, 92% of respondents believe that their organizations should do more to reassure customers about the security of their data. This disconnect is particularly evident in how companies utilize artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

The survey, called the 2023 Data Privacy Benchmark Study, is an annual global survey that examines professionals’ perspectives on data privacy strategies. It involved over 3,100 security professionals from 26 different countries. The study found that not only do consumers have higher expectations regarding data privacy than what companies currently offer, but organizations also prioritize different aspects of privacy compared to what consumers value.

Transparency was identified as the top priority for consumers (39%) when it comes to trusting companies with their data, while organizations surveyed prioritized compliance as the number one factor for building customer trust (30%). Despite 96% of organizations claiming to have processes in place to meet ethical standards in AI-based solutions and services, there is still a need for more reassurance regarding data privacy.

A previous study conducted by Cisco called the 2022 Consumer Privacy Survey highlighted that 60% of consumers are concerned about how companies use AI. Additionally, 65% have already lost trust in companies due to their practices involving AI technologies. Consumers expressed that they would feel more comfortable if they were given opportunities to opt out of AI-based solutions. Interestingly, providing these opt-out options was listed as the least preferred approach by organizations when it came to reassuring customers.

Despite the challenging economic environment, the survey showed that companies continue to invest in privacy measures with an increase in spending from US$1.2 million three years ago to US$2.7 million this year. Over 70% of surveyed companies reported significant benefits from these investments such as building customer trust and mitigating losses from data breaches. On average, the benefits of privacy investments were estimated to be 1.8 times the spending.

The study emphasized the importance of privacy as a critical business priority and highlighted that all employees should be aware of how to protect data privacy. The survey revealed that 95% of respondents believe that every member of their organization should have knowledge about protecting data privacy.

Dev Stahlkopf, Cisco’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, emphasizes that an organization’s approach to privacy goes beyond compliance and has a broader impact on sales, security, operations, and most importantly, trust.

Privacy legislation also plays a significant role in ensuring accountability for how companies manage personal data. Currently, 157 countries have privacy laws in place compared to 145 last year. Even though complying with these laws can be challenging and costly, 79% of corporate respondents believe that privacy laws have had a positive impact.

Interestingly, while 88% of respondents believe that their data would be safer if stored within their country or region, research indicates that this notion does not hold up when considering costs, security measures, and other trade-offs. Furthermore, 90% expressed their belief that global providers operating at scale can better protect data compared to local providers.

In conclusion, the survey conducted by Cisco highlights the need for organizations to bridge the gap between consumers’ expectations and privacy strategies. Building trust through transparency and addressing concerns regarding AI-based solutions are key areas where companies should focus their efforts. Privacy investments continue to show significant benefits for businesses in various aspects such as sales and security. Moreover, it is crucial for all employees across an organization to understand the importance of protecting customer data.

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