Last week my Co-founder Paul wrote about the concept of 'intimate data' (rather than big data) and I want to continue that line of thought. The recent release and fallout from the Panama Papers is just one in a long line of digital data breeches that show just how valuable the data can be. It took investigative journalists over a year to make sense of just small fraction of the data available, as they chased the highest profile characters involved. How they must have wished they had access to something like IBM Watson, the cognitive computing system that takes unstructured data and finds patterns and meaning within it.
Of course the other side of the coin is that the individuals whose data has been 'shared' will feel very differently about the breech. For them, it is not the offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca who has had their data stolen, but the individuals themselves. In the digital era we have moved from considering there to be ‘data about me’ to ‘my data’. This is an important distinction. We consider banks and others to be guardians of that data, rather than the owners.
The distinction has also led to us thinking differently about the value of that data and who should get that value. As long ago (in digital terms) as 2011 the World Economic Forum defined personal data as a new asset class. We are becoming acutely aware that others are generating value from our information and there is going to be a sea change in how we think about extracting value from that asset. The Pew Report on “The Future of Privacy” stated that ‘Personal data is the raw material of the digital age. Monetisation of digital engagement is at the heart of almost every technology business’.
We are slowly becoming aware that we can and should have control of this asset and the tools are becoming available for us to manage it. We are aware for instance, that we often exchange personal data for free access to websites and apps, but the recent emergence of AdBlocking software has offered us a chance to stop that lopsided value exchange taking place. Many of us click ’agree’ without much thought when faced with onerous and complicated Terms and Conditions before gaining access to information to websites and apps. This is hardly informed consent and new legislation in the European Union has sought to redress this imbalance.
What does this mean for the connected individual? It most likely means we will seek out tools that allow us to control, protect and manage our personal data and indeed to sell it. This may be done through personal data stores at first but could also lead to a complete new type of programmatic sales. What if the programmatic model was changed to allow advertisers to bid for access to connected individuals’ data? What if we could see much clearer value exchange model that sees a monetary value offered for access to the intimate data we might share?
For the Connected Marketer, there will need to be a huge shift in thought and practice from consider how to make value from the data from individuals to how to create value for those connected individuals with that data.