Customer Relation Management, Smart Information Systems and Ethics

Kevin Macnish, Ana Fernandez Inguanzo

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Smart information systems (SIS - Big Data and artificial intelligence) are used in Customer Relations Management (CRM) to help manage large customer databases and improve customer interaction by companies. This case study involves research into the Finnish telecommunications provider Company A regarding their use of SIS in developing CRM. This they use primarily for assessing “churn”, the drop-off rate of customers choosing not to re-subscribe to Company A services, and for improving customer service by monitoring customer activity on Company A’s website. SIS has the potential to improve both of these areas through developing an understanding based on patterns of behaviour.

A literature review of ethical issues facing the use of SIS in CRM reveals that there are a number of such issues. These include autonomy, control and manipulation of people, privacy, customer knowledge as to what happens with data pertaining to them, algorithmic bias, responsibility of companies, governments and individuals, trust and informed consent. The interview held at Company A demonstrated that many of these issues are recognised and encountered by practitioners operating in SIS. Informed consent and trust were not discussed in the interview while global approaches to ethics was raised in the interview in a manner not seen in the literature review.

Overall, this case study evaluates how ethical issues found within the SIS literature correlate with those identified, and tackled, in the business practice of CRM.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalORBIT journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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