In my last article we discussed a new initiative of Lifetouch’s to attract and retain school photography bookings. The Shutterfly Storefront.
Selling to Schools
I have another prediction. In an effort to further distinguish Lifetouch from the competition I can see Shutterfly taking steps to improve Lifetouch’s data security measures and in so doing demonstrate their superiority in this area. Lifetouch did something similar years ago with their Smile Safe Kids Cards and the relationship with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
That strategic move required an industry wide response in order to remain competitive and increased the cost and complexity of doing business.
It also brought attention to how school photography could be a valued benefit and a contributor to child safety. The action increased the importance of our industry to schools.
Redefining and leading in cyber security and privacy appears to be an achievable and industry impacting move that could, and perhaps should, be made by Shutterfly.
Not only would it create the perception of care and concern for schools and families it would provide a unique, and potentially significant distinction between Lifetouch and its competition.
Shutterfly already deals with personal information and has the technical expertise to innovate in this category.
Why Cyber Security and Data Privacy?
Cyber security and data privacy are significant risks to businesses and we have several instances outside of the volume photography and yearbook industries where data has been stolen, compromised or misused.
It would seem it is only a matter of time before the threat reaches school photographers or yearbook providers. When it does it may have far reaching implications to our industry. We handle the most sensitive of data…school aged children. The data we need and in some respects have taken for granted, the data so necessary for us to conduct our business could become unavailable to us.
I have heard of photographers who have not adequately safe guarded data and images and in some instances have opened up their images to the public at large. I hope this is fiction and not fact.
If you are dealing with third parties or business partners, any of who handle your data, you remain responsible. If anything your risk increases as the data moves and is used for a variety of applications by a variety of systems.
School photography is process dependent with activities that include order forms, payment methods, initial capture, transfer of images and data, transmission of orders, image editing and storage, printing and fulfillment, shipping and delivery and reorders.
If you have not already done so please familiarize yourself with the best practices and requirements of FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and PTAC, the Privacy Technical Assistance Center.
It is reasonable to expect that increased federal legislation or regulations will be forthcoming for the private sector. Individual states are already examining and in some instances enacting laws. Canada has enacted PIPEDA, a series of regulations for how businesses must handle personal information.
Beyond the potential of being financially and legally liable it is in our best interest, we have a selfish, if not a moral and ethical obligation, to protect the student data and private information entrusted to us. The bottom line is we are responsible for that information.
If Shutterfly decides to take steps to distinguish Lifetouch’s data security and privacy measures as being superior to those taken by independent photographers they will establish a superior account attraction and retention strategy.
Here are two simple questions for you to consider.
Call to Action
How secure is the data you manage and could you compete for school accounts if this prediction comes true?
Frankly, failure by our industry to improve data security, to comply with data privacy and to take steps to identify and correct weaknesses leaves the future of our industry at risk.
Managing cyber security was probably not on the list of concerns or interests we had when we entered the volume photography business but in today’s cyber-active world it had better be now.