Leave it to Apple to be the game-changer for privacy.
The company’s recent announcement that iOS 13 will include single sign-on is a direct hit to the technology sector. Unlike many of its competitors that operate ad-based platforms that monetize personal data, Apple is empowering users with privacy mechanisms that give them firm control over their data. More important, it solidifies the role of privacy as being embedded within the design process.
Elevating the Role of Privacy
First, a quick recap: “Sign In with Apple” competes with the quick log-on capabilities offered by the leading internet platforms but goes a step further by allowing customers to hide their email addresses from third-party services. While its requirement for adding two-factor authentication to your Apple ID makes it less seamless than Apple implies, the company has made it clear that convenience no longer needs to come at the expense of your data.
Apple’s move is logical. After all, why should we have to reveal a trail of personal data in exchange for the ease of using IDs from internet platforms on other sites?
Apple’s clout also elevates privacy to its rightful place alongside architecture, systems development and hardware design. The protection of personal data is now an integral element of creating an end-to-end value proposition connected to a platform and a service.
Legislation is also playing a role in privacy’s new muscle. Organizations are racing to prepare for the California Consumer Privacy Act, set to take effect January 1. Legislation introduced in New York is even tougher.
The Ripple Effect
What do the changes mean for technology companies? Number one, they now have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of consumer trust and transparency. We heard about the challenges of building trust at the recent Churchill Club open forum on privacy, featuring current and former chief privacy officers of Uber, Stanford University and Facebook (see video below). Set in the heart of Silicon Valley, the sold-out event included representatives from internet and platform companies that represent ground zero for the online privacy debate. Participants drew sharp distinctions around what the tech industry must do to maintain consumer trust while preserving its legacy and livelihood.
Equally important, Apple’s move will give companies a chance to get creative in finding innovative uses for data to benefit the customer. The opportunity for monetizing data isn’t just about packaging and selling it to third parties; it’s also about developing products and services that fill customer needs.
Becoming More Proactive about Privacy
Intuit is a great example of how companies can use customer data to offer relevant services that essentially put more power in consumers’ hands. The company already monetizes customer information by making additional services available to customers through its platform. As it learns more about customers’ financial lives, it notifies them of benefits that can save them money. For TurboTax’s 14 million registered customers – up from five million last season – the company has 70 offers for credit cards, lending, investing and mortgages.
Now Intuit is developing an AI-driven expert platform to pair with TurboTax algorithms: When the system finds a tax question it can’t answer, it will connect customers with its network of CPAs and tax attorneys. In doing so, the company is acknowledging customers’ needs beyond personal finance and taxes. By meeting those needs, the company will differentiate itself in the marketplace.
It’s the idea of meeting customers’ needs that’s central to Apple’s announcement. It shifts the technology sector from a reactive mode regarding privacy to one that encourages us to put privacy measures in place at the outset of product and service design – and consider the customer from the beginning.