Responsible data use: what is it and why is it so important?

Dr Kendra Vant explains responsible data use, what it means at Xero, and why it’s important for every small business.

Understanding how powerful data can be is important for every small business owner. Data can create many new business opportunities, enable you to develop improved products and services, and provide many other benefits to both you and your customers. But with that power comes the duty to use that data responsibly.

At Xero, we’re committed to using data responsibly. As a global platform for small businesses, we know we have an obligation to collect, manage and use customer data in a responsible way to benefit small business owners, their advisors and their community.

To help support our customers in using data more effectively and more responsibly, we’ve launched the Xero responsible data use hub.

We’ve also formed the Xero Responsible Data Use Advisory Council, a group of passionate people from our community of small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers, and partners, as well as industry experts dedicated to keeping our customers informed.

To help kick off these initiatives, Kendra Vant, chair of the council and Xero’s executive general manager of data, explains responsible data use, what it means at Xero and why it’s important for every small business.

Q: Can you describe the concept of responsible data use?

Responsible data use is our guiding framework for making decisions about how we treat our customers’ precious data. Building on Xero’s values, it gives all Xero teams guidance on how to think and behave with regards to data protection, data sharing and using data to deliver even more insightful products. It even covers our technology investments, product development driven by machine learning, and our partnerships and acquisitions.

Q: What does responsible data use mean at Xero and for Xero customers?

The world is more connected than ever. Almost every one of our interactions produces data that connects to many other products and services. The collective power of data on our platform can open opportunities for small businesses and their advisors. In the past, these opportunities have been inaccessible to all but the largest and most complex organisations. We’re working to change that and create more powerful and insightful solutions for small businesses.

We’re investing in products and technology that use the data in our small business platform in a responsible way to deliver our vision of being insightful and trusted. We’ve already started by creating innovative tools that help small businesses make better decisions and give advisors the information they need to help their clients thrive.

We’re also committed to being custodians of data and to make decisions that benefit our customers and align with what they expect from us. We have developed responsible data use commitments to ensure we use data in service of our customers.

Q: Why is responsible data so important for small businesses and their advisors to understand and embrace?

It’s important because the world we live and do business in has become more digitised, creating data with every interaction. All business owners need a deeper understanding of how data is used within their own business and with those they partner or work with. This helps them retain control over their data and also reap the benefits of using data in a savvy and responsible way to help their businesses grow and thrive.

Xero commissioned a global survey of small business owners and found that less than one-quarter (17%) say they understand completely how their tech providers use their company’s data. In addition, more than one-third say their customers likely do not fully understand how their small business is collecting and using their customer data.

Small businesses are the backbone of the global economy, so it’s vital that owners and their advisors better understand how to get value from savvy and responsible data use. Small business owners need to know their tech providers are responsibly transforming data into smarter insights, developing innovative products to automate manual work, helping small businesses make better decisions, and giving advisors the information they need to help their clients succeed.

Simultaneously, small business owners can benefit from understanding how they can use the data they collect from their customers in a responsible way. They can learn how to manage the data they share with others, while learning how collecting and leveraging customer data responsibly can deliver value for their business.

This hub contains content to demystify data and offer best practice advice about using and sharing data responsibly. We welcome your feedback and questions on responsible data use.