When it comes to management information systems (MIS), the amount of data collected is becoming increasingly larger every day. For employees the information includes such things as name, address, gender, social security number, work habits, likes and dislikes. For the customer, data collected include name, address, gender, credit card number, likes and dislikes. The question is how we handle this growing collection of data, maximize our profits and, at the same time, protect the customer and employees privacy? Is there something we can do to minimize the impact on privacy? The big question would be are we morally required to protect personal privacy anyway? Are the moral requirements related to legal requirements and how do companies balance these requirements with their drive for profit?
I worked for 30 years in a corporate environment where personal data was collected and used for a wide variety of business purposes. The amount of data collected and the means of collecting the data started with pen and paper records but moved very quickly to electronic data collection systems, because of the large volumes of data that was collected. This data was used to make business decisions that included every minute of every day for every employee. It was used to dictate when and where an employee would take lunch, breaks, overtime, how much work that employee was to do and how fast that employee should work to accomplish the task at hand. This included both working employees as well as sub management. Along with this information, they collected customer information which they used to decide routing, placement of centers, or hubs, as well as where to place retail outlets. Now what if this large corporation were to use the information collected to sell names, addresses, and amounts of money spent to third parties strictly for profit? It is even possible they could sell employee work records based on their performance as a means to make money? Would this be morally or legally right? Or, like Wal-Mart, use the data and manage your personal life for just a little more profit.
Here is an example of how they used information. When we were using pen and paper we had the ball point pens that had the click to open feature on them. With a database study they decided that each time we clicked the pen to open it and close it at each delivery stop it used about 1 second of time multiplied by the total stops per day of 125(average) would use 125seconds per driver, multiply that times total drivers nationwide of approximately 10,000 drivers would give you a number of seconds used just to operate the pen. This figure shows that it cost $8,680/day to have these pens. Guess what happened next? Our new stick pens just arrived!
This is a good example of how you can use your information to make simple decisions that maximize your profit. As you would have guessed, there are more sinister ways to use this information which begs everyone to ask questions...