2021 will be a year of transition. As communities, consumers, and businesses leave the pandemic behind, they will embrace a new normal. Three privacy-related trends will underpin this transition: 1) an ever-increasing appetite to collect, process, and share sensitive personal data from consumers and employees; 2) despite the recessionary economy, values-based consumers will increasingly prefer to engage with and entrust their data to ethical businesses; and 3) regulatory and compliance complexity in relation to data privacy will increase further.

25% of CMOs will increase investment in technology to collect zero-party data in 2021.

Against this scenario, for 2021, we predict that:

  • Regulatory and legal activity related to employee privacy will increase 100%. Pandemic management, as well as a growing desire to improve workforce analytics and insights, will drive organizations to hungrily collect more and more employee data. We predict that in the next 12 months, regulatory and legal activity will double and overwhelm organizations that fail to take a thoughtful approach to employee data — one that respects and protects employee privacy. Companies must develop a privacy by-design approach to their initiatives that entails the collection, processing, and sharing of their employees’ personal data.
  • One in four CMOs will invest more in technology to collect zero-party data. Digital advertising is on the brink of major, systematic changes. Values-based customers increasingly look to share their data with companies that embrace privacy as a value and treat data ethically. On top of it, the death of the third-party cookie forces companies to focus more on collecting data directly from customers and rely less on more risky third-party data. In 2021, CMOs will start to make strategic revisions to their ecosystem, and 25% of them will increase their capabilities to collect zero-party data. CMOs must partner with their security, risk, and privacy peers to select the right technology and craft processes that adequately support their objectives.
  • CCPA 2.0 will pass and spur the introduction of federal privacy legislation in the US. In the next 12 months, two important events will shake privacy in the US. The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) will pass, and this will force the US government to finally introduce a bipartisan federal privacy bill that has a realistic chance of passage. Organizations need to identify what aspects of CPRA will apply to them and keep their eyes turned toward the national legislation when introduced to determine how to adjust their approach.

For a complete overview of Forrester’s 2021 privacy predictions, including how the role of the chief privacy officer will change and the data management implications of Brexit, read our research and connect with me via inquiry.