Personalization and the Amazon Echo: Balancing Privacy and Convenience

Numerous technical wonders have arrived in 2017. We don’t have flying cars yet, but technology has truly reached an incredible level, and much of this progress wouldn’t have been possible without personalization and data use. Now that data has become so valuable, you might be wondering how we can balance privacy with the convenience offered by today’s technology.

We use technology, devices, websites and more, to send real-time data to companies on a daily basis. One of the most prudent examples of this kind of commonly used technology is the Amazon Echo. The Amazon Echo, more commonly referred to as Alexa, serves as a household assistant to make life easier around the home. Alexa has the capability to play any song you might want to listen to via Spotify, use Google to look up the answer to any question, and can even complete purchases for you on Amazon. All of these tasks can be completed by simply talking to Alexa. With seven built-in microphones, Alexa, unlike Apple’s Siri, has an incredible listening range; simply use the wake word “Alexa”, to get her attention.

This is where the privacy concerns start to come into play. The fact that Alexa needs to hear her wake word before she can operate means that she is always listening, waiting until someone says her wake word.  According to Advertising Age, recorded data is stored in 60 second increments. After the 60 seconds passes, it is deleted and replaced by the next 60 seconds. Although Amazon explains that this data will be recorded over, skeptics are still concerned.  This video of two Google Home devices talking to each other touches on wider privacy concerns.  However, despite minor concerns, many consumers still buy the Amazon Echo for the sheer amount of convenience it provides.

The same privacy concerns hold true for websites. Similar to Amazon’s Alexa, many websites use data to personalize the online experience for visitors. The process of personalization is typically used to present certain site banners or content of interest to specific users. As with the Amazon Echo, there are some people who feel that their privacy is compromised when this information is used for marketing purposes. However, a vast number of users don’t mind giving up their information for a better customer experience.

Personalization is a relatively new concept, and attitudes are likely to continue to develop as we become more accustomed to these technological advances. Efficiency is everything, and consumers continue to be drawn to sites that are tailored to meet their needs, with privacy concerns secondary to convenience. This has been continuously backed up by statistics. According to Accenture, 2016, 56% of customers are more likely to buy from an online or offline retailer that recognizes them by name, 65% of customers are more likely to buy from a retailer who knows their purchase history, and 58% of customers are more likely to purchase from retailers who recommend options based on past purchases. These statistics certainly suggest that customers appreciate all personalization can do for them. This final statistic in particular is supported by the vast growth of e-retailers like Amazon, famous for its recommendations based on past purchases.

Some users might be fearful of personalization, and others might be fearful of web use altogether, but in the rapidly developing world of ecommerce, it’s time for the majority of retailers to embrace the change and provide their customers with the superior service they’re looking for, while ensuring they also have plenty of security measures in place. When it comes to websites, secure hosting and a trusted support team can help.
A team like can advise you, answer questions and discuss your concerns so that you can embrace the future and stay ahead of the game.

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