How Will Obama's Privacy Policies Influence the Midsize IT Community?

By | Nov 15, 2012
Topic: CRM/ERP

More and more midsize businesses are starting to use cloud-based CRM products, and they are learning a lot about their customers. But is it too much? Are consumers' rights being violated? That is one question that the Obama administration may have to address in the next four years. According to CNN, privacy is one of five tech issues that may need the president's attention sooner rather than later. The issue is complicated and may need to be looked at in two parts.

The first part is how companies collect personal data, track people's online behaviors, and use that information to sell them things. The second part involves how the government collects and tracks data to investigate crimes. According to Google's Official Blog, "Government surveillance is on the rise" and if you don't believe Google, then just look at the investigation of former CIA director David Petraeus. A lot of the information that is coming to light has been taken from personal email accounts. Is it an invasion of people's private lives? That is something that lawmakers will need to start sorting out in the next few years. In the meantime, IT professionals in the midsize business community are already starting to look at how government polices might affect their customer relations.

Since it is very uncertain whether or not the Obama administration will address or change policies on how companies use people's private information, how changes will affect the midsize IT community is still unclear. However, right now many CRM products that midsize companies use give more information than a company needs. By working closely with the CRM product provider, a company can limit how much personal information they collect on customers. Many midsize companies also realize that they have no control over the data that is collected online through social networks, search engines, and free email services. What they are realizing they can control is how much of that data they actually use and for what purpose.

Another area that many midsize IT community members are talking about is how to allow employees to have privacy when their mobile devices are used for business. With the popularity of BYOD in small and midsize companies, many IT professionals often know more than they want to about their own co-workers. In an effort for some companies to keep their own data protected, they authorize the right to shut down the employee's entire cellphone or mobile device if they fear a password has been compromised or a policy is being violated. Some employees feel this goes too far, yet some in the IT community feel it is the price that needs to be paid for the flexibility of BYOD. By having stricter federal guidelines it may help these issues or it may exacerbate them.

Only time will tell if the Obama administration will change privacy policies and if those changes will have a major effect on the midsize community. For now most companies are choosing to use customized CRM products that give them exactly what information they need; nothing more and nothing less.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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