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Personalized Experiences Fueled by Personalized Data: A Panel Discussion on Privacy & Data Security

by Caroline Boyland May 17, 2022

This week, Akash Magoon - Cofounder and CTO of Nayya hosted a panel of experts to discuss promoting privacy, advancing data security, and building and scaling personalized software within healthtech, fintech, and AI driven product companies. The takeaway? While data privacy and security should be at the forefront of every business strategy, there are ways to make it less scary and conreavoluted for your end user.

I definitely recommend the watch (located at the bottom of this article!), but if you don’t have time, here are 4 key points that I took away from watching the panel.

1. Be transparent

We live in a world in which just about every app, website, and social platform is asking consumers for data. This has led to what feels like a binary divide between consumers, half of us are fearful and angry (“why do they even need all this information?”), and the other half have essentially given up (whatever, my data’s out there already, what more could they possibly take?). No matter which side of the spectrum consumers are on, the conversation around personal data is typically not a positive one. One way to create a more positive consumer experience? Be transparent about what you’re asking for and why. Farid Vij - Cofounder and COO of Ciitizen, highlights his team’s successful approach in the panel. Vij explains that their technology gives consumers the ability to opt-in to share their data. They found that while sharing rates were originally low, once they took a “here’s the data we would collect, here’s why we collect it, here’s how it helps us, you, and others” approach, sharing went up to 85%. It’s important to remember that there is nothing wrong with a business model that collects or interprets data, the issue forms when a consumer doesn’t have a choice of what is happening with their data. He also mentions that the way that they ask is critical as well—the ask doesn’t come in the form of a 30-page-long “terms of service” doc, but through clear, easy to understand messaging that helps consumers understand the why behind the ask.

2. Set expectations and meet them

Insights from Matt Cooper - Principal, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy of Vanta fall in line with this transparency component as well. Cooper stresses the importance of having a clear understanding of your data situation—understanding how data regulations affect you, what your data flows look like, what information you’re collecting, and how you’re collecting it. This will help you establish a defensible privacy program. He uses the analogy of “getting your house in order,” this will help you understand what you’re doing to comply and ensure you’re transferring data in a way that is clear and respectful of the end consumer. Above all, set expectations of what your data collection and usage looks like, and meet those expectations. This will establish trust and confidence in you and your brand.

3. Lead with data ethics

For Frank Caserta - Chief Information Security Officer at LiveRamp, data ethics always comes first. Caserta outlines how his data ethics team solely focuses on advocating for the ethical use of data. When it comes to data privacy and security, laws can vary geographically, and things aren’t always black and white. A data ethics team can monitor changing laws and ensure your organization is doing what it needs to to be compliant with new and updated regulations. This also plays a major role in product development, said Caserta. Involving your data ethics team early and often can ensure that you’re answering the right questions (read: is this product we’re considering building even legal? Just because we can do it, does that mean we should?). Getting your data ethics team involved early on can ensure that you are following all necessary regulations, no matter what it is that you’re working on.

4. Become a trusted partner

Finally, become a partner consumers can trust. Easier said than done, right? Similar to the age-old “you’ve got to give respect to get it” sentiment, Dustin Goodwin - Head of Data Security at Nayya stresses the importance of respecting the consumer and their data to create a strong partnership. When it comes to the “how,” Goodwin recommends making sure that you’re coming from the right mindset. He sees himself as an advocate for the consumer’s data, and states that as long as you’re thinking in that frame of mind, you’re always going to be coming from the right place.

All this to say, there’s a lot of fear and concern from consumers when it comes to data privacy and security. The sentiment was clear across the panel that we, as an industry, need to find a clear and consistent way to communicate with users about their data. Providing clarity and education around what data is collected and how it is used can go a long way in establishing trust and confidence in a partnership. When handled properly, sharing data has the potential to increase personalization, accessibility, and transparency. Instead of being associated with fear, there’s an opportunity for increased equity, transparency and a healthy relationship between consumers, businesses, and data.

Watch the full panel, here:

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