The Privacy Foresight of our Founders
By Mike O'Brien | June 10, 2014
It always excites me when I come across articles like this recent piece by David Hoffman. It’s obvious that data privacy and security are becoming an integral part of doing business in the digital world, but not everyone shares the following belief of Hoffman: “Privacy is an essential element of being a good business partner.”
I have said it before and I will say it again, the founders of Sailthru saw this coming and it’s why a core piece of the platform has been architected around this theme.
When Sailthru was founded, we were at the forefront of data collection for marketing automation and personalization technology. Even in the early days before it was a controversial topic, the founders recognized that the data should be only collected in principled and respectful ways. In making this point, I refer to the way that Sailthru silos the data it collects, meaning that any of our 400 clients cannot share or access any other client’s data. It is under lock and key on a client by client basis, and is not cross-pollinated across the Sailthru ecosystem.
The benefit to the client of this siloing is that it makes the system more intelligent about each particular end user’s interaction with their brand, specific to them and only them. On the consumer end, this is also beneficial both for privacy and user experience. If I am giving up some of my personal information to a brand, I want to make sure I am directly reaping the benefit with that brand, and that other companies aren’t using (or worse: buying) my information to their benefit without my consent.
Here’s an example to clarify my point:
• I read Business Insider everyday. I want them to know that I like reading about startups and the venture capital community.
• I also read Corporate Counsel everyday. I don’t want CC to know that I like reading about startups and VCs because I want them to serve me general content about the legal profession.
• While my interests in a broad sense remain constant, the way my interests apply to different brands is not the same and so I behave differently with them. Plus, it goes without saying that Business Insider and Corporate Counsel would be wasting both my time and theirs if they provided me with the same content.
The other benefit to a consumer of Sailthru’s privacy by design is that if my data is siloed to the brand, then I can control what it knows about me and feel comfortable that it is not using my data in ways that distract my purpose.
Here’s another example:
• If I regularly shop both at Fab and at Alex and Ani, I wouldn’t want Fab to share my purchase histories with Alex and Ani, since I might spend more on one site than the other. The aggregate amount that I spend could be an indicator of my income.
• The privacy implications of this information are significant. If brands are aware of an individual’s income, they could begin discounting (or not discounting) simply because they know the individual can (or cannot) afford it.
Siloing data is something that people do in everyday interactions. Depending on the audience, you may share personal stories or you may purposefully refrain. A user’s interactions online should be similarly controllable in order for them to feel respect and trust in a brand. As we watch and experience more frequent data loss, a brand’s ability to maintain the trust and respect of its consumers is a key strategy to its success.
That’s why there is never a day that goes by that I don’t feel inspired by the choices Sailthru’s founders, Ian White, Neil Capel and Chris Chapman, made to ensure that privacy was an essential part of Sailthru’s philosophy and infrastructure. It makes this company one great business partner, while protecting every individual in the process. The more we protect consumers, the better partners we become to our clients, and the better we serve that end user. That’s a win-win in our book.
Caroline McCaffery is General Counsel at Sailthru and an expert in Corporate Law, with more than 13 years of corporate transactional experience with scaling technology companies ranging from early-stage to large, multi-national corporations. She also brings over 3 years experience of navigating in the new and emerging Big Data Privacy and Security Law industry for early-stage clients.
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