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Responsible Use of Data Brings Benefits for Danish Companies

A new study shows that companies working actively with IT security, personal data protection and data ethics affect the competitiveness of companies. The focus on data ethics is emerging but still on a low level.

Among the Danish SMEs in the survey, 56% estimates that their business is strengthened when they show customers and potential customers how they work with data ethics. Work on data protection also strengthens companies. Here, 63% say that their company has been strengthened by complying with data protection legislation. In terms of IT security, 39% of the companies consider that the level of data security has an impact on their competitiveness. Of the total group of companies surveyed, 8% of the companies consider that the work on data responsibility as a competitive parameter result in increased turnover.

Data ethics Initiatives are Emerging
The survey is the first to look at how companies work with data ethics. It shows that a small proportion of SMEs have started working with data ethics on a day-to-day basis.

Among the concrete initiatives launched by companies, efforts to ensure transparency and explainability peak (36%). A small proportion have established a redress system that can handle complaints about data ethics issues (12%). Few are specifically working to identify the environmental impact of their data use (6%). A very small proportion of companies reveal the social impact and negative impact for their use of data on children and adolescents (2%). The same applies to the identification of societal consequences of data use or importance for the protection of specific target groups (2%). This may be because only a small part of the companies involves stakeholders in the work on data ethics (4%) and thereby cut themself off from insights into the impact of their data use of different customer groups.

A stronger focus on data ethics considerations
Of the companies surveyed, 40% work with a variety of data ethics considerations related to their processing of data. The considerations include prioritising the customer’s rights towards commercial and organizational interests (17%), freedom of choice for the customer in relation to registration of their data (17%) and the possibility of not using personal data or using only anonymised data (23%). Others consider whether their data use affects customer behaviour (7%) or has social consequences (9%).

Data ethics strengthens businesses
Although there are many data ethics considerations at play, fewer are translated into concrete initiatives. It is therefore surprising – in a positive way – that 56% of companies estimate that their business is strengthened when they show their customers and potential customers how they work with data ethics.
Behind the study is the Danish Council for Digital Security, The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), the D-seal, IDA and the IT Industry in collaboration with the Danish Business Authority and with support from the Danish Industry Foundation. The survey was conducted by Carve Consulting in October 2021.

The report can be read here:
(Danish only)