WPP CEO Martin Sorrell says that data strategies requiring consumer “opt-out” are no longer viable. The industry, he said, has not done an adequate job of addressing privacy concerns surrounding the collection of data. The bottom line: “opt-out" is out, or should be -- while “opt-in” strategies should be adopted industry-wide and also "clarified and simplified for the consumer.”
Sorrell’s comments came in a guest column he penned this week for the inaugural issue of The World Post, a new joint venture publication of The Huffington Post and the Berggruen Institute of Governance. The launch was timed to the convening of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.
Businesses and governments alike, Sorrell asserted, “are going to have to work harder to show the benefits that ‘big data’ brings to consumers and economies.” The public, he added, must be informed about “how that data is handled,” while companies must demonstrate that they are “responsible custodians of people’s information.”
The WPP chief also said the global economy continues to operate in a “tough environment,” and that clients remain “cautious and risk-averse.” As for his own business, “we are taking it month by month, and I think that’s how most business leaders feel about things at the moment, certainly in the mature economies and in some of the BRIC markets too.”
Sorrell said that in the “post-Lehman world” -- a reference to the collapse of Lehman Bros., which is viewed by many as the catalyst for the last recession -- “finance and procurement departments have the upper hand and the focus remains (wrongly in our biased view) on cost control rather than growing the top line.”
And while he’s been critical in the past of the way that U.S. politicians have handled the country’s deficit and debt issues -- suggesting at times a U.S. default could throw the world economy into another recession -- Sorrell now says recent signs point to a U.S. economy that is rebounding nicely.
“There are several reasons to be significantly more cheerful about the future of the U.S.,” he said. “Confidence is returning to the world’s largest economy (over $16 trillion) and most importantly, the fundamentals are strong and becoming more so.”