Personalization & Privacy at IoT Conference

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The following is a guest post from Natalie Zfat, a writer, entrepreneur and social media influencer. Dell frequently works with Natalie and her company The Social Co. Here she shares information on protecting your security as a user of social media. Natalie works on an XPS 13; Dell helps her and our customers to protect their valuable data through our comprehensive suite of security and manageability solutions.


How can a company’s data be managed more efficiently? What innovations are helping to build our nation’s smartest cities? How does one create – and ultimately prove – value from IoT?

These are a handful of the questions that were asked – and answered – at Internet of Things World in San Francisco last month. As the largest IoT event on earth, IoT World recruits 4,000 attendees, 250 thought-leaders and 150 exhibitors annually to discuss the goals, challenges and technologies that are shaping the world of IoT as we know it.

Image of audience via Internet of Things World

As a social media influencer and founder of digital agency The Social Co., one topic we speak about often with our clients is Personalization and Privacy. When IoT World asked if I wanted to discuss it as part of their panel, my mind began to race with stories of the companies we’re worked with who have truly pioneered it.

As a social media-rooted agency that caters to global retail brands, every year it seems that more and more of our clients have a great need to personalize and capture data – and, with our guidance – an urge to be transparent with their consumers about what they’re doing with it.

Unfortunately, one of the first roadblocks we encounter is that companies often create 10-page doctrines as their Terms and Conditions. (As consumers, who has time to read that every time we want to download an app? I certainly don’t.) One of the first things we encourage our clients who are capturing data to do is bullet out the terms that they think might be worrisome to potential users – and display them prominently. For example, in advance of a five-page waiver, a company might say, “If you upload a photo, we retain the right to repurpose it for commercial use.”

It might seem shocking or scary to be so up front about your terms, but in our experience, that type of transparency helps eliminate potential disappointment/privacy concerns down the road.

Social media is also a unique industry when it comes to privacy because it magnifies our perception of where our information could be personalized. Is our information being captured by marketers when we are simply trying to connect with colleagues on LinkedIn? How about when we’re planning our weddings on Pinterest? Are we seeing organic results, or results that are recommended to our demographic? 10 years ago, we certainly had privacy concerns, but today, with social networking, they are even more rampant. Those concerns are also shared more rampantly. (Think of your crazy uncle who posts his “outrage” every time Facebook revises their Terms and Conditions.)

The audience at IoT asked what we would recommend is fair – to both companies and consumers. I’ll reiterate here, what I said there: If you’re a company, use your best judgment. Be as transparent as possible about what you’re using data for. It might be scary but save you a headache in the long haul. Don’t subject your users to anything you wouldn’t want their families or friends subjected to. Fair, right?

On the other hand, if you’re a customer, be thoughtful about what you’re signing. Be reasonable. Don’t sign a 4-page privacy policy without reading it, and then later be surprised when you find out your data is being remarketed. (A few audience members at IOT World approached me afterward and concurred.)

The president of the United States just got hacked. Concerns about privacy are normal – and in my opinion, they’re absolutely good, because those concerns are what lead to innovation and security.

If we can safeguard our information against any threat, while enjoying the benefits of personalized content, we too can pioneer the delicate intersection between Personalization and Privacy.


Natalie ZfatPutting the “social" in social media, Natalie and her company The Social Co. have partnered with some of the largest brands in the world, including Rolling Stone, Food Network, Refinery29, American Express, Travel and Leisure, Levi’s and Dell.

Hosting videos and events, curating original content and implementing full-scale social media takeovers, Natalie gains millions of impressions for the brands she advocates for.
This year, Google named Natalie one of 60 Fun and Interesting People to Follow on Google Plus. And, you can follow her on Twitter at: @nataliezfat.

About the Author: Aundrea Grumbo

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