It is Mark Zuckerberg who has been the face of the latest data fiasco, this one about the uses of data rather than a data breach. When Facebook was a startup, one can hardly think that Zuckerberg sat down one day and pondered the many ways the data that would be generated could be manipulated. He could not have predicted a scenario like Cambridge Analytica. Nor could Twitter, Snap or even Telegram have known its data might end up being an intelligence goldmine in regards to terrorism.
Publishers, from newspapers to magazines, need to be ever more aware of the data they’re collecting and holding. Not just subscriber or customer data, but even their content.
Being Data Aware
The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica crisis should be a wake up call to tech startups and well, pretty much any business that collects information on customers or how their customers use their products and services. The global nature of apps today means most startups have to be GDPR compliant with the EU, even if they are based in Ohio or Nova Scotia. But data awareness goes beyond just privacy laws.
Publishers today should take some time to consider how their data may be used by not just third parties but fourth or fifth parties. Especially is they leverage API’s and interconnect with other platforms.
The Data Connectivity Conundrum
If a startup is relying heavily on connecting to other platforms, like analysing data from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and so on, they should consider the privacy rules and data terms of those major platforms. Already, companies that rely on Instagram data have seen throttling and loss of data as Facebook implements new controls. Understand the risks of relying on data from major platforms. It could hamper your business model, so being aware will allow you to prepare.
Considering Connections
Everything today is connected. Rarely is an app built in isolation. Even task management apps are connected with email apps and calendars for example. As you have your product now or are developing it, take some time to consider the various ways data might be used. Take note and put in place some policies. Review your Terms and Conditions.
Consider Monetization Opportunities
All media publishers today collect data in some form or another. They use some of that data to manage improvements and feature development of their product or customer service and marketing metrics. A good chunk of the data they collect is not used, it is “data exhaust” that just happens to be collected with the product or service. Most apps and tech services today also make heavy use of API’s to interconnect with complimentary apps and services. Think of Slack and all the various apps built to leverage the Slack platform via API’s as an example.
You may have additional revenue opportunities with your data. You can out-license data to other companies who may find value in your data exhaust or in specific data you collect. If you decide to leverage this, you’ll want to put in place specific agreements and terms and conditions on the use of the data. We can help you with that.
Concluding
No matter what stage you’re in as a startup, step back and take some time to consider the various aspects of your data. How you use it, how and with whom you connect via API’s or other agreements and what they might be doing with your data combined with theirs. Also, look carefully at the Terms and Conditions of those companies with whom you connect your data.
It’s an added layer of concern and work, but it’s also good governance. It is increasingly likely that prospective investors will ask about your data governance policy. Maybe not at the start, but most likely during any due diligence. It can also protect your board of directors down the road and make getting third-party insurance coverage easier.

About the Author webconomist

Giles is a globally experience marketing communications practitioner with over 20 years experience in the technology sector. He's brought a number of innovative technology products and services to market around the world. His work as a digital anthropologist is now over a decade of digital research understanding how consumers use technology. Giles is regularly interviewed by news media on digital topics. Currently he is managing partner of Ekspansiv, a consulting firm focusing on MarTech, SalesTech and Marketing Operations (MarOps). He's on the organising committee for the Atlantic Big Data Congress and co-founder/creator of the Ice Awards for creative in advertising. Giles has worked in senior management in both public and private companies and has been involved with 4 startups; three successful and one failed.

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