Technology has transformed how businesses and individuals connect, from wearables that capture information about our bodies to smart buildings that communicate with the power grid, and more. As connected devices become the new norm, companies and individuals have the opportunity to explore how sharing data can generate insight, action and value.
To explore the risks and benefits of this new reality, AIG partnered with independent research agency RTI to study attitudes toward data sharing. We surveyed about 400 employees and 250 executives from the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Japan and China. Our findings reflect the rise of a new ‘digital trust,’ built on relationships that enable data sharing, transparency and privacy to unlock business value. Here are four central insights from our study:
1. People need to know the benefits before providing their data.
The majority of businesses and consumers (75%) worldwide are willing to share data if they perceive some benefit. While there’s variation among the countries we studied, more than two thirds of employers and employees were open to sharing their data.
This willingness to provide data in return for benefits spans all industries. Businesses that are more labor-intensive and focus on safety rank among those most open to data sharing. These safety-minded industries, including manufacturing (77%) and transportation/warehousing (79%), are also areas where early adopters are starting to see results. One might consider, for example, commercial trucking companies’ use of computer vision data to trigger automatic braking systems that protect drivers on the road.
Data sharing is also more prevalent among larger, high-growth companies. Companies that proactively share data report a growth rate nearly twice that of those that share data on a limited basis or not at all.
2. Safety concerns play a role.
In our survey, 59% of respondents said improving worker safety would motivate them to share data. More than half of employers in most countries we surveyed said they are willing to ask employees to wear devices to ensure safety at work. Higher still was interest in monitoring data from company cars to ensure employees are driving safely.
3. Cultural difference matter.
Despite the global interest in sharing data, strong contrasts exist in different countries. For example, in the U.S. and Australia, the strongest motivation for data sharing is improving financial performance. In China, Singapore and Italy, the strongest driver was the opportunity to be viewed as an innovator. While in the UK and France, improving employee wellness and reducing payroll costs are top concerns. In Germany, it’s all about enhancing customer relationships, productivity and managing inventory.
These results indicate that value in the connected economy is not one size fits all. When data collection devices catch on quickly in one country and fall flat in another, different attitudes about sharing data may be in play.
In our survey, China ranked highest among employees and employers for their willingness to share data. China also ranked highest of all countries in trust of institutions, including government, business, media, and non-governmental organizations, according to a 2016 Trust Barometer study from Edelman, a global public relations company. We observed this correlation between trust and data sharing worldwide in our survey. Employers and employees said they are significantly more open to sharing data with companies that they perceive as ‘trusted.’
4. Create a culture of trust.
In our survey, more than half of companies said they believe an employer has a right to collect and share data about how employees do their jobs. However, the vast majority of employees are unwilling to share data unless they know that their data will be properly handled and their privacy protected. In our survey, 81% percent of employees felt that their data must be kept private. Additionally, 76% of employees said companies must clearly articulate policies governing the monitoring and sharing of employee data in the workplace. Employers should notify employees when they are gathering their data and offer employees the opportunity to “opt in” rather than “opt out” of data sharing.
Ultimately, by highlighting the benefits of data sharing, we hope to help inventors, investors, consumers and senior business decision makers, including risk managers and chief risk officers, implement new business models and capabilities that can support their business as the connected economy grows.