Will millennials influence the future of data compliance?

Posted by Johnny Kromer on 21 Aug 2019, 14:30:00

Millennials are the future decision makers of every industry and will see an evolution in communications compliance that many may not be ready for. 

New communication is already radically changing the way people interact with each other. We’re seeing a shift from physical and interpersonal communication to almost purely online communication, being led by the millennial generation. The question is, how will the different views and focuses that millennials have, coupled with rapidly advancing technologies, like cloud collaboration, affect data compliance

Who are Millennials?

The term “millennial”, first coined for its current purpose in the 1990s, generally denotes a particular generation of people generally believed to have been born sometime between the mid 1980s and the early 2000s. We could say that millennials are anyone who is currently around 18 to 35 years old. 

However, what really defines a member of the millennial generation for the purposes of this blog, is that they are digital natives so technologically fluent that the digital realm could be regarded as their mother tongue. With massive amounts of information at their fingertips, millennials tend to be free thinkers who are sceptical of institutions and religions. This has led to many conversations and recent concerns on communications privacy and security

Why will Millennials Influence Data Compliance?

This generation was brought up alongside developing digital technology. This made them a group that is notorious for not being loyal to technology or institutions. There is a great uncertainty as to how things will alter with millennials leading decision - making in the future. 

In a recent Edelman survey, it was discovered that 74% of millennials believe they influence the actions of their elders. They’re not wrong, because millennials are becoming the key decision-makers of the world, in both business and government, and have a significant influence on how we view and implement data compliance.  

What has been imagined by their influence is a workplace where compliance is so much a part of companies’ cultures that it becomes the norm for working in the modern world. This is comforting news, because while the expected changes in data compliance (detailed below) will take some time to get used to and implement, we can have hope that they will not cause major economic shifts. 

How will Millennials Influence Data Compliance for Communications?

What will be shared and where it will be distributed? It should come as no surprise that the most digitally-connected generation in history causes some tension with how and what information they are willing to share online. Half of all millennials identify as political independents (loyal to no party) and one in four claim no affiliation with any religion (according to a Pew Research Research study), notably higher than any previous generation. 

These statistics just go to show the broad array of perspectives that prevail across this one generation, making sense of both their scepticism and their caution. A recent Deloitte study shows that a quarter of millennials don’t trust institutions, online or not, to keep their information safe, and over two-thirds are concerned about online identity theft. This distrust and call for transparency impacts communications companies who need to ask for personal information in order to conduct their business; for example, debt collection call centres or those offering customers the option of opening or settling accounts via telephone. 

Millennials now demand to know the reason for the collection and use of their data before companies can extract even the most basic pieces of personal information. For communication companies operating in the cloud or telephony space, the expectation of applying GDPR rules (of which the most basic is that users must have the ability to ask for their personal data to be destroyed by a company) are increasing, despite whether GDPR is a legal requirement in the country of operation or not. Are companies in this sector keeping up? It should be expected that this will be the norm of the future, where companies will not only be required to comply with data collection and security laws, but they will be judged by the public on their approach to this and probably be expected to surpass the legal requirements. 

Interestingly, there is still a disconnect in how millennials view data privacy and security. It’s true that they are highly sceptical about how their data is collected and used (via online or telephone), largely due to their institutional distrust and their native knowledge of technology. But they also willingly overshare personal data online through social media and other platforms.

The future of data compliance for communications is shifting because of this dependency on interconnectedness. Just like for call centres, for social media to continue to function, some amount of personal information has to be shared. Millennials understand this, but they are doing everything in their power to limit what data this needs to be and how it is controlled - a reason for the rise and increasing importance to abide by policies like PoPI and GDPR. Call centres operating in this space can expect to have to have excellent scripted responses to questions on data collection that truly reflect how and why they collect certain data points, and how their users can ask to have this data destroyed. 

Millennials are used to handing out their personal details online or even over the phone because they grew up with this as a norm. The change in recent years, due to alarming stories like the Cambridge Analytica scandal or the Bell Pottinger scandal, has been that millennials have begun to demand management rights over their shared personal data, heavily impacting how companies operating online and in the communications space, collect, manage, store, and secure data. 

The problem is that millennials want an interconnected world, one which requires data sharing, but they are becoming increasingly concerned about how to do this safely. Companies need to stay ahead of this growing concern, and can expect policies to be put into place limiting how data can be collected and stored. The key for companies in the future will be to analyse precisely what specific data they need in order to conduct their business and only ask for the truly required information. They should, as far as possible, reduce the need for any secondary points of contact where they need to request further personal information from their customers/users. 

Rather than expecting millennials to operate within existing structures, communications companies should expect that there will be a generational shift. 

Millennials want to limit both the amount of information they share and the time it takes to submit this information. In order to align with this shift, companies should be focusing on making their data collection automation and ensuring their data security is as safe as possible.

With the millennials becoming decision makers, it’s vital that companies start moving their communications systems to the cloud. Get some help convincing your organisation to move to the cloud with our IT Manager’s Guide.

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Topics: Adoption and Change Management

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