Cultivate Blog

Appreciating people without algorithms

Posted by Jenny McGee on 4/5/22 2:00 AM

Technology is a wonderful tool that helps people connect, network, learn, and even send gifts. Without technology, there would be no online shopping, YouTube videos, or—gasp!—Google search engine. Like anything else, these 21st-century advances haven’t come without a price for those who use them. Nowadays, topics like data collection and algorithms make national headlines and can impact the economy, national security, and nearly every industry worldwide. So, when it comes to online gifting, how far should the algorithms and data collection go?

In this blog, our team of experts reviews the debate around how companies can use and monetize data, why it matters, and how Cultivate sets its online gifting solution apart—sans algorithms.

Is data worth the debate?

Data processing, collection, and algorithms have taken the world by storm. People, businesses, and governments are waking up to how data can help them make smarter buying decisions, learn how to negotiate with other countries, and wirelessly monitor their health from their watch. While AI and Machine Learning have and continue to bring a novel level of understanding to our world, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine on this development path.

The growth of all AI and Machine Learning algorithms requires the use of data and lots of it. As people learn more about how their tech habits are used as data points for developing these algorithms, the conversation around data privacy is gaining attention. The European Union passed a major law around data privacy last year, called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which puts mandatory regulations on companies to manage and collect user data in a responsible way. In the US, California recently passed a similar law called the Consumer Privacy Act that makes sure people’s data is protected and only used for the purposes the user agrees. So, how does this affect online gifting, and is data privacy something we should even be debating?

Why data privacy matters

Some tech-based gifting companies out there say that their solution to protecting people’s data is anonymity. These companies say that even if they are utilizing user data via algorithms to offer the ‘right’ gifting options based on user search queries, browsing, and buying history, there’s no way that data can be traced back to the user. Furthermore, they claim that all private attributes (e.g., people’s names, emails, phone numbers, demographics, etc.) are removed before sharing and selling. Arguing the data they collect, store, and sell is among millions of other companies who do the same. So, what’s the harm?

Unfortunately, many of these companies have shown unspecified data isn’t as anonymous as we like to think. The potential consequences? Anyone with enough tech skills can access that information and easily identify the people in the data set. Meaning those people can then become targets of identity theft and exploitation. Look to recent cyber ransom attacks as an example. 

Appreciating people > algorithms

At Cultivate, we take user data and privacy seriously. From routine updates to our operating system, file storage and anti-malware protection to how program and redemption data is stored are just as important to us as it is to our clients.

Our team doesn’t have to depend on algorithms or access to your organization’s data pool to help you deliver a successful gift program when it comes to Virtual Gifting. Instead, we analyze our internal data, review products, listen to feedback, and design Curated Collections that offer quality products people want. Even though we depend on technology to help us connect with clients, plan programs, manage logistics, and advance our online gifting platform to meet our clients’ needs, we don’t have to depend on user data or algorithms to make those decisions.

As mentioned in the introduction, technology is a wonderful tool. And data collection for things like recurring and automated gifting are great ways to track progress and program performance. However, obtaining personal or organizational data shouldn’t be a part of the planning process and should never be sold after the program ends. If anything, the only data that should be collected and shared is with the client to give them a snapshot of how well their program is performing and the gifts people select. Making it simple, safe, and never for sale.

Ready to learn more about launching a Virtual Gifting program? Connect with our team of Gifting Experts to get a demo and see how our online gifting platform works.

Topics: Experts

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