Data breaches continue to make headlines as more and more Canadian businesses become increasingly dependent on technology.

A recent report from Risk Based Security ranked Canada third globally in the number of data breaches for the first half of 2018. As of June 30, there have been 48 breaches recorded across the country and more than 12,500,000 records have been exposed. These incidents are expensive for companies and create a large amount of distrust with their customers.

A best-selling author and the founder of Six Pixels Group, business transformation and digital marketing expert Mitch Joel is increasingly interested in how the internet is evolving and how the fallout from data and privacy breaches have impacted and will continue to impact marketing and messaging.

Joel has always been ahead of the game in matters concerning the commercial internet and has a prescription for brands who want to be consumer-focused leaders: they should ask for less information and do more with it.

“You give professional marketers a line, they’ll cross it, and that’s what they’ve done, historically, forever,” he says. “Now we have rules, things like you can’t advertise to children, what you can and can’t do in pharma, or financial services, et cetera, and I don’t see any reason why the internet should be outside of that.

“I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be conversations about what data is really required. I see this as a brand’s tremendous opportunity to stand up and be the actual evangelists for their customers. Instead of saying, ‘well, Facebook is doing this and using all this data...’ imagine the brand that stands up and says ‘...and we’re not going to use it. We don’t need to know more than these four things about you.’”

Joel’s contention is that if brands see the value in acquiring vast amounts of consumer data, they should be able to see the value in giving their consumers peace of mind that their data won’t be compromised because it can’t be. That in asking for simple, basic demographic information, they may be better suited to deliver a good consumer experience.

“I don’t look at it like Facebook and Google are the big bad empires. I think that it’s a situation that we’re all in, that we’re complicit in it, and I think we as customers have to figure out what we’re going to do and I think brands have a tremendous moment in time here, where they can really stand up and be advocates for their customers.”

Given that Joel is very concerned with both the internet and the consumer experience, it only seemed fitting to ask if he’s turned to the web for his various insurance needs.

“I’m lucky in that I have people in my life who made the insurance industry their profession,” he says. “I’m very lucky to have two trusted advisors that, no matter what offer you put in front of me, if it was something materially substantive to what I have, I’d probably forward it to them and say, ‘What’s the story?’ Which I haven’t had to do ever. So, I’m happy.”

Mitch Joel’s official website can be found here.