Enterprises in Europe have a huge opportunity to take advantage of big data analytics to improve their services and gain market value, but in order to do this, they must keep the concerns of their customers in mind.

Encouraging transparency and being able to demonstrate to users that their data is being used responsibly will be the only way to ensure a strategy that is reliant on customer data analytics is sustainable for the long-term, according to group director of business intelligence data at Telefonica Richard Benjamins.

Speaking at a Trust in the Digital World conference in Madrid this week, he said this is the only way to guarantee that customers will be happy for their data to be collected and used, Computer Weekly reports.

Currently, many companies are tackling the issue from the angle of trying to determine what they can use consumer data for without falling foul of privacy regulations. But Mr Benjamins said this is the wrong approach.

"It is vital for companies to engage with their customers and take them on the journey towards transparency that enables using their data for mutual benefit," he said.

At the moment, the majority of people who interact with online services are not aware their data may be collected or how it is used, but this is not a sustainable situation.

Therefore, it will be up to businesses to strike a balance between making customers aware of their activities and exploiting the information for insight.

"People are generally happy to share their information if they know that it is being collected and how it is being used to improve their lives," Mr Benjamins observed.

One example he offered was the use of mobile phone calls and text information in the aftermath of a city being struck by a disaster such as an earthquake, which could help authorities quickly identified the areas most in need of aid. This can be inferred from studying patterns of activity and details such as location, even if the private content of such communications remains hidden.

"The data is a by-product of mobile communication, but by analysing that data it can tell an interesting and useful story," Mr Benjamins said.