IT’s Advisory Role is More Than Just About Technology

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• Public awareness of data privacy and data mining is increasing which will lead to greater regulation.

• IT needs to be the trusted advisor on these topics to help with business planning.

The recent hearing with four of the biggest tech companies (Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook) on Capitol Hill was regarding the power these four firms have across the spectrum and the possibility of anti-monopoly action against them. The undercurrent that runs through the public is the sheer amount of personal data these four companies have on their users and how they use that data. The average citizen isn’t worried about the possibility of Amazon co-opting their products and making their own, or Apple possibly squeezing them out of their app store.

They are worried about what they see in front of them. Targeted advertising that is increasingly and creepily catered to their interests. This includes on their mobile phone, where they are suddenly seeing ads for things they only *talked* about. At base, the IT world is all about data and the analyzing of that data. Technologies such as AI are just beginning to draw in disparate data sources and create results that are both amazing and disturbing. If you think targeted advertising is creepy right now, look out for five more years of AI development contributing to it.

IT needs to get ahead of the game and that means getting knowledgeable about not only relevant privacy and data retention regulations, but also preparing business management for them too. There are a lot of vendors out there talking about data mining, location tracking, and even facial recognition. They rarely talk about how this technology may fare when regional legislatures or federal legislatures decide to enact strict privacy, data retention, and data movement regulations. Outside of Europe, there seems to be an attitude that “GDPR can’t happen here!” but the public is not so slowly waking up to the dangers to themselves of limitless data exchange and limitless data mining. The California Consumer Privacy act of 2018 is just the start in the U.S.

This particular issue seems like old news or something that the business should handle. But IT has an important role in guiding the business and helping it mitigate the risks around it. It can be frustrating and irritating to have to keep track of law processes and events in this space, it feels like it’s out of bounds. But it’s not and the role IT can play in business planning around these issues is a vital one. Don’t abdicate your seat at the table.


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