CEO of O2, Ronan Dunne believes establishing trust with customers is key to utilising big data and driving the digital economy.

Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 UK (Telefonica)
Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 who believes digital connectivity is the oxygen of modern life. (Credit: O2)

"Our economy is now a digital economy and digital connectivity is becoming ubiquitous - it is the new oxygen of modern life.

The new services that will help make Britain digital depend upon the collection and analysis of data, including personal information, to deliver value. But to unlock these services and help propel digital Britain forward, we need to be a digitally confident nation.

Last year we conducted state of the nation research to understand more about the public's attitudes toward the sharing of information.  The resulting report, the Data Dialogue, found that whilst the new digital services needed to power economic growth depend on the creation, collection and analysis of data, the reality, and increasingly our challenge, is that people are fearful of sharing that data. 

The research uncovered that this is largely because companies and government haven't explained how they use data or how the customer will benefit. In order for the UK to realise the potential of customer data, for the benefit of citizens themselves, there needs to be a greater level of trust established and a fair value exchange realised.

At the European Voice debate 'EU data protection rules: better for business, better for citizens' today, I'll be explaining why I believe increased confidence and trust in a digital society is vital to creating an environment where technology is available to all, and everyone is empowered to innovate.

If implemented correctly, the proposed new European data protection rules will make a huge contribution to increasing customer trust and confidence in digital services. Importantly, they will make things much simpler for everyone by establishing a single approach across Europe.

Seize the opportunity

So what more do we need to do to make sure we can seize the opportunity that digital Britain will bring to individuals, businesses and the economy?

In my view, there must be a unified push by British businesses to better explain how information is collected and used to give consumers more power over their data - and with it greater confidence. Without this, there will always remain confusion and concern amongst the public about inconsistent practices and standards.

There is shared value to be created from personal data, for business and for citizens. Increasingly our customers are coming to expect services that add value by predicting their needs and by guiding them to the experiences they want. Intelligent use of data can make our customers' lives easier and better.

Location services can help them avoid traffic and find the fastest way to work. Applications can use data to offer relevant deals and discounts that customers really value.

Predict

Technologies that use data to predict and analyse behaviour can help customers get what they want faster, and do what they want to do better. O2 Priority Moments is based on the information our customers chose to share with us; enabling us to give them personalised offers and services which enhance their everyday experiences. 

Whilst we don't have all the answers, we believe that by starting the conversation, asking the right questions and working collectively, we will be in a better place to get it right for consumers. It's not just by complying with legislation, but by working together to establish the trust amongst the public, that will enable us to use their data to push the boundaries of innovation and fuel a digital Britain.

We want others to join us in exploring ways to offer transparency and control to consumers because if we are lacking in confidence when it comes to data, it will constrain our growth as a nation and limit our digital competitiveness on the global stage."

Ronan Dunne is CEO of O2 speaking at European Voice's debate on the EU's progress towards agreeing new data protection rules alongside Viviane Reding, European commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.