mCordis Insights

The Attribute Economy

Paul Berney 26/08/17 00:00

In the words of Bruce Schneier, "The primary business model of the internet is built on mass surveillance." The trading of personal data attributes is the dark side of the digital age. Entire industries, and some of the world’s largest businesses, have been built in the Attribute Economy.

While people have come to expect product recommendations, personalized offers, and even relevant ads, what have we given up in return

We have found a way to socially connect 1.6 billion people, but we haven’t seen participation, consumption and business models keep pace or evolve in parallel.  As the planet began to connect across networks, the only business model we came up with was more ways to advertise more stuff. 

The Attribute Economy is what drives digital business. But with each breaking news story about security breaches and extractive corporate practices, the model faces more of an existential threat. Consumer behaviours, privacy consciousness, whistle blowers, ad-blockers and regulation are all forcing the model to change. In fact, under the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organizations that do not comply can be met with fines of up to 4% of global revenues. Key executives could also be held personally liable.

With all of these forces at play, new innovators have emerged. These innovators are focused on helping everyday people use their personal data to seamlessly create better outcomes in life. They’re also focused on helping organizations build more open, trusting relationships with their customers so that new shared business and customer value can be created. Clarity and openness on how personal data is used is crucial in building trust.

Starting out as a simple article introducing the concept, The Attribute Economy quickly became a topic of discussion. In the months that followed, leading thinkers in digital identity, personal data services, regulation, and design collaborated to produce The Rise of The Attribute Economy 2.0. This report highlights the key market forces impacting the way organizations acquire, store analyse and make use of personal data, whilst also providing practical, real-life examples of how innovators are tackling challenges and unlocking the €1 Trillion of new value this market is predicted to unlock.

Closed networks and walled gardens are breaking down. The customer is now the point of integration - the catalyst for new forms of business value. Many of us share the perspective that the incoming European regulation, such as GDPR and PSD2, could enable significant opportunities for business transformation and customer-centricity. The key to unlocking value will be the ways in which personal data can be accessed and used. We need to start thinking about data as an asset, every bit as valuable as a critical part in a manufacturing line, a currency to complete a transaction or vital information to enable a decision.

We at Meeco see a clear path forward to a new marketplace, one that is based on transparency, opting-in and trust. We believe the hallmark of a future proof organization will be the willingness to share the data it collects about its customers directly with them for mutual value. The Attribute Economy has evolved. The Connected Marketer Institute’s workshop on 26 April is a great place to see the evolution as its happening.

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