Customer data mining rules changing in Trump's corporations-first era

As Trump negates regulations against mining of customer data, consumers are mixed when it comes to trusting AI to act on those insights, Pegasystems research shows.

The data universe may be expanding even further as the Donald Trump administration and Congress work with ISPs to loosen regulations governing the sale of subscriber search histories.

Daragh O Brien, managing director of data management consultancy Castlebridge Associates, said there are valid marketing reasons for companies to use data on the web browsing histories of individual consumers. But, he added, they must use the data in a reasonable way with transparency and benefits for customers, such as less-intrusive advertising on websites.

Things haven't yet settled down on that particular customer data mining front, however, and marketers should keep an eye on how legislators are reacting. O Brien noted that some states are likely to take steps to counteract the federal action that paves the way for ISPs to sell browser histories -- the Minnesota state legislature quickly passed a bill to do just that in March. He also predicted that many internet users will set up virtual private networks or use other means to preserve the privacy of their browsing data. As a result, companies could "pay a lot of money for data that might be worthless," O Brien said.

AI survey: Consumers fully buying in

Vince Jeffs, director of strategy and product marketing for customer decision management, PegasystemsVince Jeffs

Consumers, too, have their doubts about the ability of AI to help them in their daily lives. CRM vendor Pegasystems surveyed 6,000 consumers in six countries, and while 68% of respondents indicated they'd be more open to using AI if it actually saved them time or money, more than 70% harbored some sort of fear of the technology. A quarter of respondents actually said they worry about machines taking over the world. These attitudes represent a basic mistrust of customer data mining that businesses must face head on and overcome, the report's authors concluded.

"None of it surprises me," said Vince Jeffs, director of strategy and product marketing for customer decision management at Pegasystems, commenting on the survey's results. "Consumers, generally, are pretty unpredictable in what they believe, what they know and what they do."

Consumers' tolerance for AI interactions, he added, appears to be greater when AI is helping them buy or service an inexpensive product versus establishing a relationship with a bank, for example, which requires deep trust.

Craig Stedman, senior executive editor of TechTarget's information management websites, contributed to this article. 

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