Will Consumer Privacy Concerns Limit the Use of Big Data?

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MIT SMR Strategy Forum

Each month, we pose a question about business, management, technology, or public policy to our panel of academic experts. Here you can see what they think and why.
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We asked our panel of strategy experts to tell us how strongly they agree with this statement:

Concern over consumer privacy will fundamentally limit businesses’ ability to use big data
RAW RESPONSES
WEIGHTED BY CONFIDENCE

Raw Responses

Responses weighted by panelists’ level of confidence

Panelists

Panelist Vote Confidence Comments

Rajshree Agarwal

University of Maryland
Profile
Agree 8 “Consumers differ in the value assigned to privacy; policies that ignore differences will result in fundamental limitations to business value creation.”

Ashish Arora

Duke University
Profile
Disagree 7 “I am skeptical about how important big data will be for firms, at least in the next five to 10 years.”

Jennifer Brown

University of Utah
Profile
Strongly Agree 7 “Regulators will face pressure unless consumers understand how their own data create value and see how the value is shared with them. Both big hurdles.”

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Profile
Disagree 7 “Effective privacy protections are feasible and can make consumers more willing to share data.”

Bruno Cassiman

University of Navarra
Profile
Agree 7 “It will depend on how this gets legally implemented as it creates some transaction costs which might affect large versus small players differently.”

Aaron Chatterji

Duke University
Profile
Agree 5

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Stanford University
Profile
Did Not Answer

Maryann Feldman

University of North Carolina
Profile
Agree 6 “There is a disconnect between the use of public data, which is heavily restricted and private data, which is currently under-regulated.”

Joshua Gans

University of Toronto
Profile
Disagree 7 “Privacy is just a right and consumers waive it easily when there is value (or even not). It may create a few frictions. That's all.”

Francesca Gino

Harvard University
Profile
Did Not Answer

Shane Greenstein

Harvard University
Profile
Disagree 7 “There are few effective limits on firms selling information to each other.”

Rebecca Henderson

Harvard University
Profile
Agree 2 “Who can be sure how the political winds will blow on this one?”

Yael Hochberg

Rice University
Profile
Disagree 8 “Big data encompasses much more than just the type of data that has raised concerns over consumer privacy. But some use cases may wind up restricted.”

Daniel Levinthal

University of Pennsylvania
Profile
Did Not Answer

Tom Lyon

University of Michigan
Profile
Disagree 6 “I think the barn door is open and the horse has already left.”

R. Preston McAfee

Economist
Profile
Disagree 7 “Privacy will cause firms to jump through some hoops but will not seriously limit the use of data.”

Barry Nalebuff

Yale University
Profile
Disagree 3

John Roberts

Stanford University
Profile
Agree 5

Lori Rosenkopf

University of Pennsylvania
Profile
Disagree 7 “Typical ‘opt out’ restrictions won't change the overall character of data much, and more constraining regulations are likely to be nominal.”

Melissa Schilling

New York University
Profile
Disagree 8 “There are many types of data that will not raise privacy concerns.”

Kathryn Shaw

Stanford University
Profile
Disagree 8

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University
Profile
Disagree 7 “For most businesses, real constraint is data availability, data quality, and knowing what to do with it. Privacy will not be the binding constraint.”

Olav Sorenson

Yale University
Profile
Agree 6 “Firms can benefit even from anonymous data, and they will try to skirt regulations, but the EU will probably lead the way in imposing limits.”

Steve Tadelis

University of California, Berkeley
Profile
Agree 8 “The recent event of Cambridge Analytica has cause many to fear, maybe more than they should, about data privacy, which is already impacting policy.”

John Van Reenen

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Profile
Agree 6

Anita McGahan

University of Toronto
Profile
Agree 8 “A best-case scenario is a relatively early framework on this. The longer we go without resolution, the greater the eventual constraints will be.”

Topics

MIT SMR Strategy Forum

Each month, we pose a question about business, management, technology, or public policy to our panel of academic experts. Here you can see what they think and why.
Learn more about this series

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Comments (5)
James Howard
Provocative comments...  However, I think the lack of a generally accepted framework to manage and govern information, coupled with the increasing weight of regulation (GDPR and CCPA) will serve to throttle back momentum for Big Data.  While there are opportunities for BD with either truly anonymized (yet still useful and not re-attributable -- a very high bar) or non-consumer data (e.g., IoT sensor data), the holy grail for BD is to drive revenue/profit/savings from people-related analytics.  Privacy-as-a-basic-right (reflected in legislation) is at odds with consumers waiving those rights on a daily basis, and the resulting high-profile events (breaches or perceived abuses) will cause companies to pull back.
Christoph Von Braun
Somewhat in line with Dan's observation, I feel that you should also consider the views of people/academics/industrialists outside the US. We all know that while business in Europe and the US  have a largely well-aligned thinking in many ways, there is a significant difference with respect to data privacy. This becomes apparent in differnt guises, be it various court orders that are more strict than comparable situations in the US, consumer movements or the requirement/suggestion by various national or EU-bodies not to store data with US companies. Attitudes differ, also within Europe. Nevertheless, I think overall it would make sense to take these differences into account.

Sincerely

Christoph
Hadi Taheri
Agree
Certainly The purpose of the big data is to developing consumers in digital business, and this concern can create more effective results in the methods of using the big data and new opportunity in long term.
Paul Michelman
Dan,

Thank you for your comment and the interesting suggestion. We'll take it under consideration. The experts we invited to join as our inaugural group have deep experience studying and, in some cases, working with a broad range of organizations, often gaining deep access into their operations, strategies, and challenges. They also possess a distance from the day-to-day that allows them to develop valuable perspectives on the types of higher-level questions we'll tackle in the Forum. Nevertheless, I am grateful for your comment and the suggestion.

Best regards,
Paul
DAN PROSSER
Just a minute here...
these are amazing people in their fields - I would take nothing away from them except this: None of them are in an actual business and I would venture to say none of them have ever signed an actual paycheck for an employee who they employed. If I'm dead wrong - please correct me. 
Why don't you create a panel of people with real world business experience who have been in the trenches, instead of theorists who have no accountability to produce revenue for an actual company. I don't find them credible - and yet, as I said, these are all highly accomplished people in their field. Have they ever had to start a company, generate revenue, or had to sell something to anyone?
Dan Prosser
Best Selling Author: Thirteeners - Why only 13 percent of companies successfully execute their strategy - and how yours can be one of them.