A Few Thoughts on Facebook, Data Protection and CRM

Perhaps you’ve been in the camp of believing that the tech industry’s heightened focus on data privacy and GDPR is a little overblown? If so, I understand. At times, GDPR compliance has seemed like a major inconvenience and nothing more.

It’s easy to fall into that mindset until something significant happens. Well, this week’s bombshell allegations of data misuse against Facebook demonstrate that the concerns about personal data are real and the consequences for companies that burn their own customers’ trust are very serious.

Companies like Facebook, Google, and many others have a business model in which users willingly offer their personal information to these companies in exchange for enhancing their experience in using the company’s products or services (or getting to use them for free). The company turns around and uses or sells that information without the user’s knowledge because the “user is the product.”

This is less than ideal for consumers and they do have every right to expect companies like Facebook to put in best practices for data protection. However, the user should at least understand they are assuming a risk by agreeing to share (via a convenient checkbox) their personal information. Furthermore, they do have options to better protect their personal data.

For the CRM industry our challenge is different. Companies utilize CRM to build better business relationships and deliver value to both current and potential customers. Part of the process involves the gathering and organization of the personal information of individuals, often without their knowledge. The onus falls on the company using the CRM to quickly obtain consent to use this data and to use it in a responsible way. Companies that use CRM must also understand that it’s critical to put policies in place so that valuable personal data about their customers is never compromised. With CRM, the customer should never be treated like the product.

I agree with Aaron. And though more government regulation is likely coming, this heightened focus on data protection and privacy is a more than just a compliance issue. It’s an opportunity for SugarCRM to help our customer base implement best practices for data privacy into how they do business.

This is why we are excited to be putting the finishing touches on a series of data privacy and data protection enhancements for both our Sugar and Hint products. These new features will help companies that use SugarCRM products carry out their data privacy responsibilities as solid corporate citizens (and enable compliance along the way). Stay tuned for details coming very soon.