The ACTE Column: Data Protection

We must learn to future-proof ourselves in anticipation of new technology

DESPITE STRONGER PRIVACY protection laws in Europe, the free information age has irreversibly changed how data is sourced, and used, in social and working environments, ultimately revolutionising how we do business.

Every time you 'like' a Facebook page, you share your public information. While we may consider our profile details to be personal, not public, that is not necessarily the Facebook view. Your name, profile picture, location, gender, networks, connections, education, work, activities and interests can all become public property at the click of a button. Somewhere down the line our information may be used to sell us things.

Trip Advisor, an early adopter of user-generated content, is a site many of us are familiar with, to create and read reviews that may be used to decide where to take a well-earned holiday.

Surprisingly, despite the fact this web company doesn't appear to sell anything, and its contents are created by the people who use it, it still employs 1,250 people, has revenues of US$732 million and a net income of US$182 million. Spun from Expedia at the end of 2011 as, apparently (and unsurprisingly), the most profitable in a portfolio of travel-related entities, its core business is ultimately the acguisition and sale of data.

Data is fast becoming a greater revenue generator than sales of products and services. The data industry is now reportedly worth more than US$1 trillion dollars annually, with US$40 billion of that associated with the travel industry. Data is the engine oil of the modern business. It's remarkable that every two days we create as much information as we did right up to 2003. Fail to understand the relevance of data and how it's used in our cyber age, and you're heading for extinction.

Big brother is watching. Today's technology is already sophisticated enough to determine your social-demographic status depending on what device you use to connect to the web, which, combined with cookie trails, can ultimately affect the online price you pay. You can learn more about this at the ACTE/MS-UK partner forum on April 30.

We must heed the need to gear our curriculum to the changing landscape - otherwise we will be educating our youth for a world of commerce that does not exist when they enter employment. It is already suggested that 40 per cent of the jobs that exist today did not exist when the current school intake started in education. Those with a gift for data analytics will I remunerated handsomely.

Access Susan Hopley's presentation from the London ACTE forum held in November 2012 for some startling facts about the prolific growth of the data industry. Susan's presentation, plus ACTE research and white papers that may influence your business strategy, are all freely available through ACTE Connect to ACTE members.

ACTE
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