Data privacy has become an urgent issue for consumers and businesses, according to the latest in PwC’s 10Minutes thought leadership series, which outlines its increased prominence in company growth and brand health.

The need for data privacy goes beyond just risk management, according to the report, but is essential because of customer and investor demand, the impact to the top and bottom lines, and the emergence of the personal data ecosystem.

In urging companies to rethink privacy, the report states: “By considering only what privacy safeguards can prevent—customer loss, brand damage, fines, litigation—they miss out on what the right strategy can enable. Customer data is one of your most valuable assets.”

According to the TRUSTe 2014 U.S. Consumer Confidence Index cited in the PwC report, 89 percent of consumers said they avoid doing business with companies that they think do not protect their online privacy.

PwC’s 2013 Annual Corporate Directors’ Survey found that 85 percent of investors said boards should be involved in overseeing the risk of compromising customer data, while, according to the firm’s 2013 Investor Survey, 61 percent of directors are engaged in overseeing or understanding data privacy issues.

PwC also cited Ponemon Institute’s 2013 Cost of Data Breach Study, which found that a single data breach can cost U.S. companies, on average, more than $500,000.

The concern of CEOs—globally, in almost every industry—regarding their ability to protect customer and other sensitive data grew 15 percent this year, according to PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey.

The 10Minutes piece offers further expertise to companies on improving their privacy program, and is available for download at

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