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Will FTC Online Tracking Restrictions Hurt CRM?: Page 2

By Drew Robb     Feedback
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Business Intelligence Implications

Forrester's Kobielus sees little effect from any FTC mandates on business intelligence (BI) users and vendors.

"From the point of view of BI vendors/users, it would not have a huge impact," said Kobielus. "BI supports query and reporting against data from various sources. It would be the responsibility of the administrators of the data source systems — such as CRM applications — to implement controls on what personally identifiable data they collect, how they control access to it, and what other systems, such as data warehouses, which are at the heart of many BI apps, can access or load that information."

Many organizations have already implemented database privacy controls per various external mandates, such as HIPAA in healthcare, and according to their own policies. Therefore, any new mandate could be implemented as an evolution or extension to those ongoing privacy protection programs.

BI systems, though, won't need to be modified in any significant way due to the fact that they will continue to work with whatever behavioral data is maintained in CRM systems, data warehouses, and other databases. But Kobielus sees a way to sell tracking to customers.

"Given the many customer service-relevant advantages of continuing to collect, mine and leverage clickstreams and other behavioral data, such as personalization, geolocation and social-network influence analysis, it's likely that many, if not most, users would continue to want companies to collect this info on themselves and wouldn't request that it not be tracked in any major way," said Kobielus.

This view is backed up by IDC surveys. Irene Berlinsky, an analyst at IDC, said that almost half of users don't object to companies like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) tracking their every move on the Web, and only a small group objected strongly.

"Those that frequently use eBay and Amazon are less concerned about privacy concerns than those that rarely buy online," said Berlinsky. "Familiarity helps you see it the value of tracking."


The Death of Free Internet Services?

Berlinsky mentioned the downside of effective FTC action — knocking out a lot of free Internet services. There is a trade-off between behavior analysis/tracking and the ability to offer free software and services.

"Changes could affect the rates advertisers are charged and could otherwise negatively impact existing business models," said Berlinsky. "The dangers of tracking are always stressed, but the value is not being sold well enough."


This article was originally published on August 19, 2010
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