New study on consumer data protection -Two-thirds of business managers in the US think they share too freely with third parties and majority don’t think they protect it adequately

Who owns our data, and is it secure?

Two-thirds of business managers in the US think they share too freely with third parties and think data is owned by the company that has collected it


Amsterdam 9 July 2018 - A new global research study ESOMAR, the global association for the insights and data industry, in collaboration with Kadence International shows that business leaders around the world put a high commercial value on consumer data but place lesser emphasis on ensuring its security.


Worryingly, considering the introduction of GDPR, the study signposts some key concerns regarding data protection and privacy, suggesting that there are still fundamental gaps/misunderstandings as to who owns the data once it’s collected, how it is shared inside and outside of an organisation, and how it should be protected.


The key headlines from the study are:


The vast majority of those interviewed saw data as being very important to the growth of their business' - 77% in the UK and 93% in the US

In every region it is far more likely for the Head of IT to be nominated as the person responsible for data, rather than the Head of Insights/Research.

In addition, 4 out of 10 managers and directors globally identified the Head of IT as the person authorised to select the technology platforms used to collect data

68% think their company owns the data it has collected - only around a third considered the data subject (the consumer) to be the owner of their own data.

Around half of respondents in the US and the UK agreed that businesses share data too freely within their organisation and 54% in the UK and 67% in the US agreed that data is shared too freely with external third parties.


The value of data


86% of respondents generally agree that collecting data is important to the growth of their business, but there are significant regional differences: 77% are of a similar opinion in the UK while the proportion increases to a massive 93% in the US.


8 in 10 of all participants agreed that understanding the ‘why’ behind customer data is more important than collecting large volumes of it, and 81% agreed it is vital to combine data from multiple sources to draw meaningful conclusions.



Who owns the data?


An overall average of one-third stated that it is the Head of IT that is responsible for data within their organisation. In the UK this decreases slightly to 25%, as the role of Chief Information Officer was more likely to be nominated as the one responsible for data (29%), then followed by the role of Head of Research/Insights (20%).


In the US, slightly more than a third of respondents described the Head of IT as the person responsible for data (38%).


In general, the bigger the company, the more likely that responsibility for the management of data was accredited to the head of IT.


The survey also reported that in three-quarters of all companies, the person who manages the data also has complete responsibility for the budget for data systems within their organisation.


The study also found that 68% of those asked felt that once data was collected it was then owned by the company that had collected it. The law clearly states that the data subject (consumer, customer or employee) owns their data, but only a third of the managers and directors contacted by this survey had any appreciation of the fact that the data subject (consumer) owns their data.


Sharing and protection


ESOMAR and Kadence found that half of those surveyed in the UK and USA, and a significantly larger proportion in India (61%), are in agreement that businesses share data too freely within their organisation.  As a result, 45% of managers in the UK, 49% in the US and 82% in India believe that data should be more strictly controlled within the organisation.


54% of business managers in the UK, and two thirds in the US agree that businesses share data too freely with external third parties. This significantly reinforces the relevance of, and the need for a wider adherence to, current Codes of Conduct in the Data, Insights and Analytics space.


The study asked managers to comparatively rank their company assets (such as cash, IT/hardware, buildings, transport and trademarks etc), according to how well protected they were.


Despite the importance attributed to data, 60% overall feel that cash/treasury is better protected than their data, 46% feel that IT/hardware is better protected, 49% feel that HR information is better protected, and 52% felt that trademarks are better protected than data.


In all cases the study suggests that companies in the UK protect their data better than the US and India. And in all cases the study suggests that millennial managers (aged 18-34) feel every asset is better protected than their older counterparts suggest.


Senior management disconnect


The study also suggests that senior management are less aware than upper middle and middle management of the breadth and different types of data that are being collected, and are also less likely to see how data supports business decisions within the organisation compared to their more junior counterparts.



The fieldwork was carried out by Kadence International between December 2017 and May 2018. The study surveyed 302 individuals in management roles in marketing, IT, advertising, business development, and market research in a range of company sizes and sectors, through an online survey.  The study surveyed 129 respondents in the UK and Europe, 89 in the Americas, and 70 in India and the APAC region.



ESOMAR is the global voice of the data, research and insights community. Founded in 1947, it has 35,000 data, research and insights professional members from 130+ countries. ESOMAR is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the value of market, opinion and social research and data analytics. It has been providing ethical and professional guidance and advocating on behalf of its global membership community for 70 years.

About Kadence
Kadence, the global boutique for insight and data, an international research company with offices in the US, UK, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Hong Kong and China, works with some of the world's largest brands, providing global coverage at a local level with local expertise.


For further information, please contact Jocelyn Senior at Keen as Mustard Marketing, [email protected], +44 (0) 7967 098567.