Items tagged "personal data"

Read about our views on marketplace changes as well as updates on our research and event programmes.

One step closer to the Segment of One

Posted: 24th November, 2014 | 0 comments

Meeco is a new PIMS launching a capability to enable sharing rich-data through a user-centric platform. We asked Meeco’s CEO & founder Katryna Dow to tell us about her initiative.

Around us we see tectonic shifts in the global economy and the focus on big-data. Out of the chaos a new market is emerging; one that places individuals and citizens at the centre of the data centric market, what Tim Berners Lee refers to as rich data. Whilst governments and business are tackling the issues of personal identity, open data, privacy, crypto currency and the Internet-of-Things, new services designed…

How 'privacy' misses the point

Posted: 20th October, 2014 | 0 comments

If Ctrl-Shift got a pound every time a corporate executive told us ‘there is no evidence consumers really care about privacy’ we’d be millionaires by now - it’s worth unpicking this statement just to see how dangerous it is.

Let’s start with evidence. Everyone agrees that consumers say there are concerned about how their personal data is being collected and used. The question is whether consumers care enough to do something about it.

According to soon-to-be-published Ctrl-Shift/GfK research they answer is ‘Yes’ – but not necessarily in a way that companies would notice. We found significant proportions of consumers (between…

How valuable is personal data?

Posted: 13th October, 2014 | 0 comments

How much is data – especially personal data – worth?

It’s becoming a vexed question. Not long ago, most consumers had no idea their data was valuable. Now, that’s changing fast. According to a recent Orange study mobile users in the UK, France, Spain and Poland think their location and demographic data is worth, on average, £140 to brands.

Perhaps more tellingly, just 6% in the survey felt that consumers benefit most from sharing data, with 67% saying that businesses benefit more. Sentiments like this are fuelling a growing number of services, such as datacoup and…

Brands as information services

Posted: 6th October, 2014 | 0 comments

Consider two alternative scenarios.

Scenario 1, would-be camera buyers are presented with just two cameras, one at £150 and the other at £230.
Scenario 2, they are presented with three cameras this time: the first two plus one at a much higher price.

How do you think consumers respond to these two scenarios? The same finding has been repeated again and again.

In scenario 1, people opt for the cheaper camera. But in scenario 2, they tend to opt for what is now the middle priced one..  Nothing has changed about the cameras themselves. Only the way information…

A new social contract for personal data

Posted: 29th September, 2014 | 0 comments

This week marks the launch of Tim Berners-Lee’s new campaign for an internet ‘Magna Carta’. Speaking at the WebWeWant festival in London over the weekend, the ‘inventor of the web’ warned that the basic principles that originally defined the internet – such as being open and being free – are now being threatened by large corporations and governments who now see the internet as a potentially powerful weapon of control.

Exactly what this new Magna Carta should say is now being crowd-sourced through multiple consultations over the coming weeks and months.

Berners-Lee’s Magna Carta is not the only…

The worm turns on Personal Data

Posted: 22nd September, 2014 | 0 comments

Take a few snippets from this week’s news.

First, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Open Letter on privacy. Here is what he said:

“Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.”

With this statement he’s creating clear…

A new goldrush?

Posted: 15th September, 2014 | 0 comments

Will Apple’s new Watch be as successful as its other iconic products? It doesn’t go on sale until next year so we won’t know for some time. But the move is significant nevertheless, for two related reasons.

First, just a few years ago, when we said to people ‘helping individuals collect and use data in their own lives is going to be a big growth market’, a common response was ‘Oh yeah? Try pulling the other one!”

But now, as iconic brands like Apple and other companies introduce wearables that help individuals collect data about exercise and other aspects of…

The vulnerabilities of storing our personal data on centralised servers has been brought to light following the unwarranted publication of hundreds of images last week. With many suspecting Apple’s iCloud as the source, something which the company denies, it further raises concerns about how our personal data is stored and used by organisations.

So what can we do it about it? Distrust and concern over the control of our personal data is driving the growth of the market for Personal Information Management Services including Personal Data Management Services that help individuals gather, store,…

Internet of Things: Making it real

Posted: 1st September, 2014 | 0 comments

According to Gartner, the ‘Internet of Things’ is now at the peak of its famous hype cycle. Big numbers are being thrown about. The number of connected objects is estimated to reach 50 billion by 2020, and the potential added value of services using the IoT is being counted in hundreds of billions of pounds per year. New business models, applications and services are expected across different sectors of the economy. In short, the Internet of Things (or ‘IoT’) has the potential to stimulate large scale investment, create new jobs and bring substantial economic growth.


Facebook recently announced planned changes to its advertising policy that would allow it to tap users’ internet browsing data in order to target ads. At the same time the social media giant also released more privacy tools, allowing users to mange how ads are targeted to them. However consumer privacy group the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue has sent a letter to US and EU regulators warning them that the new controls are misleading.

So how can consumers keep in control of their personal data online? At Ctrl-Shift we have found that the market for Personal…

A new market is emerging for Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) – services that help individuals gather, manage and use information (including personal information) to make better decisions and manage their lives better.

Ctrl-Shift finds that a mature market for PIMS will be worth £16.5 billion, making up 1.2% of the UK economy: with a larger total income than the automotive (0.7%) and pharmaceutical industries (0.97%).

Key findings

1. PIMS extend and deepen already pervasive digital disruption

PIMS are emerging as a critical and overlooked element of the 3rd industrial revolution that is slashing the costs of collecting,…

Talk to most marketers and you get the impression that they know what makes their customers tick. They have piles of marketing research to prove it. But do they really? The recent fast.MAP Marketing Gap Tracker looked at the differences between what marketers think and what customer think. Surprise, surprise, it found that marketers don’t really know how their customers think at all.

One of the Tracker’s key findings was the importance of customer trust. The annual Edelman Trust Barometer looks at how much customers trust business across a range of factors. The most recent Barometer made for…

In this guest blog post David Rawlins, Programme Leader midata, at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills discusses progress of the midata programme.

The UK’s midata programme, which encourages companies to hand back to their customers the personal data they hold on them, has been going for a while now so we have been reviewing progress and have published a report.

Review of the midata voluntary programme

In two sectors, energy and personal current accounts, there have recently been some positive developments.

On 11 June, a ministerial roundtable hosted by Jenny Willott (Consumer…

In this blog post Ctrl-Shift associate Graham Hill explains the vision behind the HAT project and what it is trying to do.

We live in an increasingly connected world, where much of our lives is being captured digitally as data: our transactions, our interactions, our movements. As more things become connected through the Internet-of-Things (IoT), even more data is being generated. This is the much discussed big-data. And it’s all about US!

Whose data is it anyway?

Even though this data is generated by us, it doesn’t belong to us, but to those collecting it, e.g. the supermarket that tracks…

The Respect Network launched in London this week and our CEO Liz Brandt was invited to explain the latest market development and opportunities of the personal information economy. At the celebratory event in London’s City Hall overlooking London Bridge, the Thames and the City of London, Liz shared the findings of our latest research. In our report, ‘Personal Information Management Services: An analysis of an emerging market’ we estimate the value of the market for PIMS to be £16.5bn.

Liz Brandt speaking at the Respect Network London launch in City Hall

Respect Network's global launch

Posted: 23rd June, 2014 | 0 comments

Today sees the global launch of the most ambitious initiative yet in the new personal information economy.

Respect Network is the first global private network of personal and business clouds, designed to enable members to share sensitive private data over trusted private connections. The idea is to make this trusted sharing of sensitive data as easy as public sharing of data via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is today.

Respect Network has gathered 70 companies and open source projects from around the world to share its commitment to personal control over personal data. It has launch events planned in London…

At Ctrl-Shift we’ve been talking about Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) for some time now, but there’s question we’ve never been able to answer – until now: Just how big is this market?

What are PIMS?

PIMS are services that help individuals gather, store and use information, including their own personal information, to pursue their own goals, for example making better decisions and managing ongoing life tasks.

PIMS differ from traditional data-enabled services in many ways. For example, they give individuals control over their own data, they help customers manager their relationships with suppliers rather than the other way round,…

The market for personal data management services is growing rapidly with more than one new launch a week over the last year. These services - that help individuals assert more control over how their data is collected and used - also offer organisations the chance to build trust, cut the costs of data collection and management and, over time, to access more, richer data from customers.

Our recent report, Mapping the Market for Personal Data Management, highlights the main service components being offered and showcases examples of companies working in different areas. The report enables organisations to get an…

The economics of identity

Posted: 9th June, 2014 | 0 comments

Every day individuals have to undertake a range of information tasks such as ‘fill in a form’ or ‘prove you are who you say you are’ when dealing with organisations.

This second task of identity assurance is critically important for both individuals and organisations. If it goes wrong, it opens the door to identity theft and fraud. If either side doesn’t trust the process, they might walk away from the transaction, or they default to a much more cumbersome and expensive process such as manually presenting and inspecting identity-confirming documents such as passports or driving licences.

The costs of identity

If you think about it, it's obvious. When push comes to shove, privacy has to be a personal setting because only the individual knows what information he or she feels comfortable sharing with who, in what context, for what purposes.

Simple. Obvious. And full of far reaching implications.

Accepting that privacy is a personal setting means that individuals should be able to understand the implications of the data they are sharing, that they have some control over what data they share, that there are some mechanisms for ensuring the people they share the data with can act on these preferences…

New research by Ctrl-Shift (to be published on 9 June 2014) will look at the business and economic impact of Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) – personalised services that help individuals collect and their own data for their own purposes including making better decisions and managing life tasks and processes such as ‘move home’ or ‘manage my money’.

It is the first research of its kind to quantify the economic impact of this emerging market in the UK information economy, highlighting the variety of business impacts and what they mean for organisations in different sectors and across different…

Two reports to the US President on Big Data and Privacy are likely to transform the debate about the future of personal data. The first report on the broad issues is quite anodyne. But the second one on the technology aspects of the debate get right to the point.

This report repeats something we've been saying for a long time: that the notion of 'informed consent' (which underpins EU data protection legislation) is fundamentally flawed. But it also highlights the answer which Ctrl-Shift has been advocating for the past years: that the solution lies in intermediaries acting…

Many of the biggest opportunities of the personal information economy revolve around the provision of new personalised services and experiences which depend on the trusted two-way sharing of personal data between organisations and individuals.

The development of Trust Frameworks offer organisations one opportunity to create the right infrastructure to enable such productive information sharing relationships and services. They create standard, enforceable rules for all parties when dealing with each other online enabling privacy, security and giving people the confidence to do business on the Internet whilst simultaneously supporting innovation and sustained growth.

There is increasing interest in the…

Beyond the Web’s monoculture

Posted: 5th May, 2014 | 0 comments

With pending EU legislation focusing minds, big questions are now being asked about what rules and safeguards should apply to organisations collecting and using personal data. Many competing models are being proposed. Should rules, permissions etc focus on the data that’s being collected? Should they focus on the context in which it is collected? Or the purpose for which it is used?

How should consent work? Is it OK to have implied consent in some circumstances? If so, which circumstances? Or should it always be active, explicit consent? In which case, how to avoid things like ‘click fatigue’ where it…

‘Smart cities’ are quickly becoming a reality in Europe—as explained in this video message from Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. Using data to make cities ‘smart’ brings significant potential benefits to both organisations and citizens.

One important component of this opportunity is smart transport. Ctrl-Shift has been working to develop the business models and value chains for the Stride project—a Smart Transport Internet of Things Data Ecosystem that will enable a more efficient and efficacious use of transport infrastructure. A set of resources and materials highlighting the results of the project are now available on…

Widespread access to powerful, social technology has dramatically changed the context in which businesses deliver, people consume and governments regulate. As a consumer campaigner, I’m particularly interested in the potential of technology to deliver a more balanced relationship between consumers, businesses and policy makers. Technology and social channels now enable such balanced relationships, which if managed appropriately could potentially create win-win opportunities for all concerned. Change is happening as a result of the long term manifestation of digital trends in our daily lives which have altered our behaviour and expectations. This is all part of the ‘control shift’, changing relationships…

Slowly but surely, personal data – how organisations collect it and use it – is becoming a brand issue. Whether its press articles highlighting practices which surprise and dismay consumers and citizens, or the pressure of forthcoming EU data protection legislation, organisations are realising that personal data can no longer be relegated as a ‘back office’ issue, something that works silently and invisibly in the background with no one, except a few dedicated experts, paying much attention to it.

Typical of the changing mood are these comments from Unilever’s global privacy officer Steve Wright.  Speaking at a recent conference he…

Ctrl-Shift is undertaking a major new research project to identify the business and economic case for PIMS (Personal Information Management Services) that help individuals collect and manage information under their own control and use information (including personal information) to make better decisions and manage their lives better.

We're looking for case studies, data, and input from a wide range of sources including new services and existing brands (what are the opportunities? what are the threats? and where are do they impact the most?).

If you want to be at the front line of understanding how your business and market will be…

It’s really simple: personal data is valuable and useful to the people whose data it is.  Yes it’s valuable to organisations, but it’s also valuable to individuals who can use it to do the things that organisations do with data: generate insights, inform decisions, streamline and automate tasks and processes.

This way points to the creation of unique new data sets focused on each individual, new levels of data sharing driving a vast array of new private and public services.

This is the ‘Personal Information Economy’ discussed at our conference on Thursday March 20. At this buzzing event, we heard…

A new market has emerged for personal data management services (PDMS) that help individuals assert more control over how their data is collected and used. This market is now growing fast with more than one new launch a week over the last year and it is beginning to transform relationships between customers and brands, says our new research “Mapping the market for personal data management” launched today at our inaugural Personal Information Economy 2014 event.

Traditionally, companies collect data about customers and use this data for their own purposes. But this traditional approach is giving way to new relationships…

Yesterday saw two significant milestones in the debate about personal data. First, the European Parliament approved proposals in a 621-10 vote to revamp Europe’s data protection regulations. Despite the biggest corporate lobbying exercise in history by the likes of Google and Facebook, the proposed provisions are more or less unchanged.

Second, Tim Berners-Lee, ‘father of the web’, called for a new internet ‘Magna Carta’ to establish internet rights and responsibilities and prevent its original vision and ideals being discarded.

The EU’s current data protection regulations were written before the internet. They didn't use the actual words but their underlying…

In this 3 minute video, Ctrl-Shift's strategy director Alan Mitchell explains why now is the ideal moment for Ctrl-Shift to bring together organisations, professionals and leading thinkers in a unique conference dedicated to the new and rapidly transforming personal information economy. Ctrl-Shift's inaugural Personal Information Economy event will be held in London on March 20, 2014. With only two weeks to go, this is an event not to be missed by those who want to hear first hand about the game changing opportunities and implications of the information-rich digital economy.

Alan tells us, “One of the things about this…

Open Data and personal data empowerment

Posted: 21st February, 2014 | 0 comments

Tomorrow is Open Data Day, a day designed to promote the spread of Open Data practices around the world.

There’s a fantastically exciting and astonishingly simple idea at the heart of Open Data: data currently lying around inside an organisation’s boundaries and used for only one thing could be used for many other things if it was made available outside.

The possibilities to add new value begin to explode as soon as data from previously separate sources starts to be combined.

The whole point about Open Data is that it’s open, free for anyone to use, a common resource.


At our Personal Information Economy 2014 event we’ll be exploring the game changing opportunities and implications of the new information rich digital economy. Personal information management services and trusted data sharing are changing relationships between consumers and organisations. An example of this is Pribook.

Pribook is a private networking platform which puts users in control of their information. It is a personal cloud service which lets users manage their identity, relationships with contacts and organsiations and information about the objects they own all in one place. By using Pribook, individuals are able to choose what information they…

As part of European Data Protection week the EU announced that it expects its draft new proposals for data protection to be passed by the European parliament in April.

Many are sceptical – the lobbying around these proposals has been so intense there’s bound to be more twists and turns along the way, they argue.

Surprisingly, however, there’s been very little scrutiny into the assumptions behind both the lobbying, both for and against the proposals. The biggest assumption, which seems to be accepted largely by both sides, is that we have to make a choice between privacy or innovation and…

Data protection and trust

Posted: 28th January, 2014 | 0 comments

Today is European Data Protection Day, an annual event raising awareness of what kind of data is collected about people, how it is used and the rights we have about such processing. Data Protection Day takes place on January 28 every year commemorating the signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

It is the ideal day to reflect on how rapidly the personal information economy is evolving, and, as it does so, how it is changing our economy, society and expectations with it creating the need for vital new services…

Next Generation Intermediaries

Posted: 24th January, 2014 | 0 comments

One of the biggest unmet consumer needs in society today is ‘decision support’.

Every day, every individual – whether customer, consumer or citizen – makes multiple decisions about many complex things: managing our money, managing our home, our heath, career, leisure activities and so on. Few of us are experts in any of these things. So we find ourselves muddling along, making do, procrastinating, being frustrated by a lack of information or understanding of the options, getting anxious about making the wrong decisions, and so on.

Enter the new market for decision support services – one of the key drivers…

One of the first pieces of research we did at Ctrl-Shift was into what we called VPI – Volunteered Personal Information. It was based on a seminal insight that in a digital world where individuals have some degree of choice over the amount of information they share with organisations, willingness to share such information becomes critical to competitive advantage for any organisation where access to personal data is essential.

Where individuals don’t trust an organisation or don't see value in sharing information with it they will ‘go dark’, choosing not to disclose information which they could or, if forced…

We are delighted to announce our inaugural Personal Information Economy 2014 event – your fast track opportunity to gain insight into what’s happening in the personal information economy. The event takes place on March 20 2014 at Glaziers Hall in Central London and early bird ticket sales are open today.

We have a growing list of world class speakers lined up. Our confirmed keynote speakers are:

Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Chair, Open Data Institute;
Sir Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner, ICO; and
Colin Strong, Managing…

We're hiring

Posted: 7th January, 2014 | 0 comments

Ctrl-Shift is looking for a marketing intern to join our growing business and expanding team. As the personal information market fast evolves we’re embracing exciting times and we have a fantastic opportunity for someone with the right aptitude and application to grow with us.

The Internship will be for six months and will focus primarily on marketing activities in the run-up to our inaugural Personal Information Economy 2014 event in March. The successful candidate will carry out activities including social media outreach, web content development and stakeholder management. There may also be an opportunity to work on some of Ctrl-Shift’s wider…

midata: from talking to doing

Posted: 20th December, 2013 | 0 comments

In late 2014, Jo Swinson, Minister for Consumer Affairs, wrote to the CEOs of companies in the regulated industries (banking, energy, mobile phones) asking them to report on progress made in implementing midata.

midata is an initiative to encourage the companies to release transaction data back to customers in a machine readable format so that they can use the data for their own purposes.

In the first few months of 2014, the Government is going to review progress on midata and decide whether to exercise the powers it gained under the 2013 Enterprise Reform Act to legislate.

This review will…

Intent casting is much talked about but little done. It’s the idea of consumers being able to express their intentions to the marketplace instead of being ‘targets’ for marketers’ messages.

Intently is an example of one of the pioneers of this concept. Users select a service and location and Intently finds relevant matches and sends out requests to them on the customer’s behalf. Founder Neil Harris told Ctrl-Shift how the business works and his plans for the future.

1. What’s the big benefit your service is designed to offer?

The biggest benefit is…

At the Privacy by Design User Forum in Toronto, attending Founding Partners from the Respect Network, the world’s first peer-to-peer network for personal and business clouds, today named Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian as the network's first Honorary Architect.

The occasion was not only the conference, but also the release of a ground-breaking paper "Big Privacy: Bridging Big Data and the Personal Data Ecosystem through Privacy by Design" co-authored by Commissioner Cavoukian and Respect Network Corporation's CEO Drummond Reed. I had the honor of contributing to it from the Respect Network side as we took it from…

At Ctrl-Shift we constantly monitor the market for personal data and personal data services via weekly newsletters like Market Watch. We’ve summed up the key developments of the last year in our new Personal Information Economy Round-Up.

Most of us would agree that the personal information economy is evolving rapidly. But where are the most important changes unfolding? And when, and how, will their impacts be most sharply felt? The Round-Up reviews these developments across four main drivers of change: business (corporate, competitive and marketing initiatives), consumer (changing attitudes, expectations and behaviours including media coverage of consumer issues),…

midata learnings

Posted: 20th November, 2013 | 0 comments

The midata Innovation Lab (mIL) wound up Phase One yesterday with the publication of a report highlighting the key learnings, and a speech by Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson at a showcase event where she predicted “in a few years time, we will all be using apps whose origins lie in this Lab”.

The mIL, she said, had been “wonderfully valuable” in creating the “tangible examples that create light bulb moments” where people grasp the potential of midata.

Key learnings from the mIL include the need to focus communications on value rather than the data per se and the need to automate…

The midata Innovation Lab (mIL) today published five ground-breaking new apps focused on key issues and tasks in consumers’ lives.

The apps, the product of intensive collaboration between the mIL’s 26 Founding Partners, are designed to demonstrate to companies, individuals and policy makers the potential of the new approach to personal data being pioneered by the mIL – aggregating the individual’s data (from many different sources) around the individual and integrating this data in innovative ways to make new services possible.

The mIL, hosted by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, was launched in July this year to provide a unique…

CommonTerms is an innovative project that aims to create a standardised, simple language to make Terms and Conditions on websites about the use of personal data easier for consumers to understand. As well as the benefit to consumers such clarity provides an opportunity for businesses to engender trust through a reputation for transparency. The project is inspired by Creative Commons and coordinated by Metamatrix.

A recent report by Ipsos Mori for Deloitte found that on average website privacy policies take 25 minutes to read in full. CommonTerms will provide the key facts on one screen,…

CTRLio is a digital profile management service which aims to help users control and benefit from their personal data. By handing back control of personal data assets to individuals CTRLio believes businesses will develop more engaging commerce. The London-based company recently won investment from Seedcamp, a seed investment company specialising in innovative tech startups. We spoke to CPO and co-founder Dominic Strowbridge to find out more about the business.


1. What’s the big benefit your service is designed to offer?

CTRLio helps customers manage their digital profiles and use the information they…

Handshake is a new app and web service (in beta) that aims to help consumers to negotiate a price for their personal data and sell it directly to companies. Consumers create profiles choosing how much data they want to share. These are accessed by brands that contact individuals via the app and offer them rewards in exchange for their information. The offer to business is that they can benefit from real-time customer interactions creating opportunities to build more positive relationships with consumers. We spoke to Duncan White, a founder of Handshake, to find out more about the business.

One step forward ...

Posted: 20th September, 2013 | 0 comments

Just back from the Digital Enlightenment Forum in Brussels where Ctrl-Shift were one of the plenary speakers.

A number of impressive people were there including Tim Berners Lee, Kim Cameron (of  ‘laws of identity’ fame), Robert Madeline (Director General of DG Connect of the European Commission), Peter Hustinx (the European Data Protection Supervisor) and Wlliam Hoffman (World Economic Forum).

What a difference a year makes! At one level, the Snowden revelations seem to have transformed the personal data landscape forever, raising big doubts about the trustworthiness of many Silicon Valley giants.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale,…

The midata Innovation Lab (mIL) exhibited at the recent Campus Party Europe event in London. It was fantastic to see it being showcased alongside so many other exciting emerging technologies and services, proving how important the personal data market is becoming. The Digital Confidence Panel, which took centre stage on day two, discussed how permissioned based sharing of personal data could provide better services for consumers. The Panel, featuring the think tank Demos, the ODI, Telefonica, MIT, IBM and the ICO, supported the mIL as an inspiring demonstrator essential for exploring innovation and trust. Below is a video of some sound bites from the discussion.


miiCard, which provides online identity verification services, has made a series of announcements over the last few weeks. Businesses and people are signing up for their user-centric identity service which uses the power of volunteered information to create breakthrough efficiencies and value for all parties.

We heard their news from CEO James Varga at a recent miiCard investor event. They are seeking investment to grow the business internationally. Ctrl-Shift’s Alan Mitchell was invited to provide an independent analysis of the evolving identity market and while we were there we caught up with James to ask him about the event…

From Monday 16 September UK banks will offer their customers a guaranteed ability to switch current accounts in a simple, reliable, hassle free way.  The product of two years’ work by the payment industry’s regulator the Payments Council, there are high hopes the new switching guarantee will force banks to be more competitive and improve their customer service.

This comment from Metro Bank chief executive Craig Donaldson is typical. “At the moment far too many consumers put up with poor service from their bank simply because they believe switching to be too complicated,” he says. “Increased competition forces…

The evolving data sharing economy

Posted: 5th September, 2013 | 0 comments

On September 1 some important changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) came into force – users that are entitled to a public sector dataset can now receive it in a useful form and can re-use it for commercial gain. The amendments are a further development which should be seen within the wider context of the UK Government’s commitment towards Open Data – promoting greater transparency and enabling its reuse in new services and applications stimulating economic growth – other programmes such as midata and Identity Assurance, and the evolving information economy.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides…

A few weeks ago I attended the Creative Commons global summit, as a member of the CC-UK affiliate team, and came away thinking about lessons for the growing personal data ecosystem. 

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation founded in 2003 to create and promote a set of alternative copyright licenses which allow creative works to be legally shared, remixed and built upon by others. Creators can communicate which rights they want to keep, and which they would like to waive. These licenses are now used in education, cultural archives, science, as well as in commercial contexts. By creating a…

Do you want to keep abreast of the key international commercial, technical and legal/regulatory developments and commentary around the changing personal data landscape? Ctrl-Shift produces a weekly Market Watch update tracking events, announcements and new services of interest as the value of personal data is re-assessed. Please register here if you would like to subscribe to this free resource to keep you up to date and informed.

Attitudes to personal data are shifting quickly, from data as a tool in the hands of organisations to data as a tool in the hands of the individual; from organisations collecting, managing…

The World Economic Forum’s Rethinking Personal Data Initiative has reached its third stage. The programme has already defined the value of personal data as an asset class and reinforced the value of trusted data flow. The third stage will bring together data experts with practitioners in different commercial environments so that together they can drive results that are practical, implementable, and can be widely communicated.

Ctrl-Shift has been working closely with WEF on the programme as is a contributor and key member of their international ‘Tiger Team’. This team is looking at how to create and implement the…

The midata Innovation Lab (mIL) is the world’s fastest-built data innovation lab, bringing together the most interesting and varied datasets (integrated around individuals) for brands, developers and consumer bodies to innovate with. The mIL is made up of nine ‘learning and doing strands’. Each strand, led by one of the founding partners, explores and builds learnings in the various consumer, business and wider social aspects that we think will form part of the emerging ecosystem.

Ctrl-Shift is leading on the Innovative Apps & Services strand. The aim of the strand is to generate ideas, concepts and prototype services using data…

There’s a huge amount going on in the world of Open Data. There’s a huge amount going on in the world of personal data. What happens when these two worlds meet?

Answer: a veritable value explosion, as our new paper When Open Data meets Personal Data shows.

There’s something really special about this value explosion.

Big Data – the world of large volume data sets, statistics, correlations, patterns and trends – has huge potential in its own right. But it also has its limitations. Knowing where every bus or tube is, right now, on the London transport system is…

This week saw the public launch of midata Innovation Lab.  The mIL is a world first, empowering individuals as the point of integration of data about their own lives. One of the key questions that the mIL will explore is how to build trust and confidence in data sharing when, potentially, handing over so much more, richer data to a service provider?

One answer, increasingly discussed, is Trust Frameworks: which create rules, mechanisms and governance processes agreed across many parties to ensure trust, protection and confidence in data sharing. As part of our work in advising the midata programme…

midata Innovation Lab launches

Posted: 4th July, 2013 | 0 comments

Seeing is believing.  Many people can’t see the opportunity of something really new until they can see a working example. At Ctrl-Shift we can say that one day there will be as many services based on the permission based sharing of personal data as there are physical products using say, plastic or metal components. But until we provide those working examples many people – companies, individuals, policy makers – will mutter ‘it’s just a theory’ and walk away.

That’s why, in our role as business advisors to the UK Government’s midata programme we’ve been beavering away with colleagues from…

An interview with PasswordBox

Posted: 1st July, 2013 | 0 comments

PasswordBox stores logins so users can access any of their online accounts instantly. The Canada-based service, which now has over 500,000 users, has recently announced that it is coming out of private beta. We spoke CEO Daniel Robichaud about what the service has to offer and what the future holds for PasswordBox.

1.What’s the big benefit your service is designed to offer?

The big benefit is we securely simplify your online life.

Efficiency: Save time with a 1-click login. No more usernames or passwords to type or remember.

Peace of Mind: Never forget another password –…

A really interesting article by Internet Advertising Bureau President Randall Rothenburg has just gone up on its web site. I recommend you read it, not so much for its content but for its tone.

Just a few years ago the IAB’s tone was triumphant. It had discovered the secret of how to deliver perfect relevance and therefore solve the problems of advertising effectiveness forever. It had seen the future, and the future was it. Hurrah!

Now, if you read this blog, the shift in tone is remarkable. Using phrases like ‘kangaroo cookie court’ to describe Mozilla’s move…

One transformational feature of the emerging personal data landscape is individuals becoming magnets of their own data. Instead of each individual’s data being dispersed across hundreds of different organisations, each of which builds its own, different profile of that individual, individuals use services like personal data stores to aggregate and integrate data about themselves.

Initiatives like midata in the UK and the Blue and Green Button programmes in the US contribute indirectly towards this trend by encouraging organisations to release data they hold on individuals back to them.

Now US personal data store has opened up a new…

How to value personal data?

Posted: 21st June, 2013 | 0 comments

The Financial Times’ recent exercise to help individuals value their data has caused something of a stir amongst those interested in personal data.

It’s unfortunate that, in a world where data is increasingly recognised as a critically important raw material, the FT chose to base its calculations on the one tiny corner of the data industry that’s facing a mortal threat: data broking.

Data brokers make their money out of selling individuals’ data. It’s mostly unpermissioned (therefore lacking social and consumer legitimacy), collected and used out of context (therefore not relevant), and devoid of utility (e.g. used for targeting…

Last week the US based personal data store Personal announced it was moving from a free to a paid for service. We caught up with co-founder and CEO Shane Green to ask him about the background.

1. What does this move from Personal suggest about the evolution of the PDS market as a whole?

I think it signals the emergence of a robust, stable business model that both consumers and companies already understand – you pay for a service or product that is valuable.

We believe the heart of the current PDS or personal data vault market opportunity is around…

To see just how vicious the privacy battle between Microsoft and Google is getting, take a look at Microsoft’s parody of Google’s latest ad campaign. It’s one minute of extraordinary content.

Of course Microsoft has its own commercial agenda. For example, it's desperate to persuade consumers to switch their default search engine from Google to Bing. But that’s the point. The issue of ‘privacy’ and personal data is no longer about some individuals’ sensitivity or squeamishness, abstract moral debates or arcane policy wrangles. It’s moving on. It’s now about money – big money – as brands realise that the…

Some interesting sessions at the DataIQ conference this week. My talk was on the theme ‘Where Personal Data Meets Big Data’. One meeting point takes the form of a clash: the requirements of Big Data and of personal data protection are at loggerheads. Big Data is all about collecting as much data as you can, keeping it as long as possible (to identify trends), and using the data for as many purposes as possible (because it’s all about discovering new patterns, correlations and insights).

Data protection rules on the other hand require informed consent for the collection and use…

Midata now law. Now for The Flip.

Posted: 26th April, 2013 | 0 comments

The Enterprise Reform Bill, including provisions to give ministers power to require companies to release their data back to customers, has now received Royal Assent. Coincidentally, Ctrl-Shift’s Explorers Club had gathered for another foray into the changing relationship between individuals and organisations. Our focus this time: The Flip.

At top level, The Flip is a pretty simple idea. Midata says there’s enormous new value to be gained – for customers, companies and the economy as a whole – if companies release data they hold on their customers back to the customer. Customers can then use this data for their…

When hype cycles reach their peak, the connection between the thing at the heart of the hype (which may or may not be important) and what people say about this thing frays to the point of breaking. Unjustified extrapolations, logical leaps, ignoring contrary evidence, omitting consideration of other factors – these all become fair game once the hype takes over.

Panorama, a UK documentary programme with a reputation for seriousness, aired a programme last night showing the Big Data hype cycle at its peak. Let’s take a few examples.

Big Data in financial markets

In one section it implied that…

Midata legislation – almost there

Posted: 22nd March, 2013 | 0 comments

Legislation to enforce midata – consumers’ right to request an electronic copy of data held by the company – is all but complete. With one final reading of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill planned for the House of Commons on April 16, the provisions look pretty much certain to receive Royal Assent soon after Easter.

In its current form, the Bill doesn’t directly provide consumers with the right to demand their data. Instead, it gives Ministers powers to make regulations some time in the future if they decide that voluntary progress towards data release isn’t proceeding at a fast…

To get a glimpse of the future of consumer empowering services take a look at MoneySavingExpert’s new initiative the Cheap Energy Club – a price comparison service that not only compares prices but understands the behaviours and attitudes that stop us doing stuff we know we should.

Make it easy for me!

Instead of enabling one comparison (and perhaps one switch) Cheap Energy Club keeps on comparing your tariff against the market, month by month, so that you know when you are getting out of kilter and need to do something about it.

It’s also designed to address the…

When Open Data meets personal data

Posted: 4th February, 2013 | 0 comments


A few years ago, as part of the Open Data movement, Transport for London begin releasing data about the movements of buses and tubes through London.

Big deal.  So what? What does it matter to most Londoners if the 137 Clapham Omnibus is running three minutes late at half past three on a Tuesday afternoon?

Well, it could matter a lot to those Londoners waiting for the 137 to arrive. And now, there are a wide range of apps that use this data to tell you. Simply pop your local bus stop and bus route into…

Time to scrap 'informed consent'

Posted: 28th January, 2013 | 0 comments

As another International Privacy Day comes round again it’s time to question something at the heart of European privacy legislation – the notion of ‘informed consent’.

Good intentions

‘Informed consent’ was created with the best of intentions. But in its current form it is an obstacle to progress. It needs replacing.

The underlying goal is admirable enough: personal data is the person’s (not the organisation’s) and individuals should have the right to know what information an organisation is collecting about them and what the organisation is going to do with it. They should also have a right to give…

Learning from HMV

Posted: 24th January, 2013 | 0 comments

Many people have a nice, neat explanation for the demise of UK music and video retailer HMV. Senior management should have acted sooner, when they had the time and the resources to respond to the Internet threat (from online retailers like Amazon and new forms of music distribution such as iTunes).

The trouble with this explanation is that it doesn’t explain anything. Yes, of course HMV should have acted sooner but why didn’t they? The stock answer – that HMV management were clearly shortsighted and stupid – doesn’t hold water. Businesses like HMV aren’t run by stupid people. They are…

Can Barclays really change?

Posted: 22nd January, 2013 | 0 comments

It’s really quite something when a CEO as senior as Barclays’ Antony Jenkins' takes a stand as he has over  the need for corporate values that build trust.

In his recent letter to staff Jenkins admits that like other banks, over a period of almost 20 years Barclays “became too aggressive, too focused on the short-term, too disconnected from the needs of our customers and clients, and wider society”.

Setting out a new set of values (of respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship) he avers: “We must never again be in a position of rewarding people for making the…

midata legislation begins

Posted: 11th January, 2013 | 0 comments

Last night the Government lodged an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulator Reform Bill in the House of Lords to give the midata programme legislative backing. The amendment enables the Secretary of State to make regulations to companies to provide to their customers (upon request) their personal historic transaction and/or consumption data in an electronic format.

At one level, the practical implications of this move are quite limited. Only a few sectors are directly involved (energy, mobile phone, current account and credit card suppliers) and most of them have been involved in the voluntary side of the midata programme…

When we researched the changing personal data landscape a year ago we identified two underlying trends.

Historically, organisations have acted as the data manager and user. But now individuals are becoming managers of their own data and using information as a tool in their own hands. These trends are creating a hotspot of innovation – aspects of which include midata data releases to individuals, personal data stores and PIMS (information management services that help individuals make better decisions and manage their lives better).

These trends are creating a dilemma for organisations. On the one hand, far-sighted…

Instagram is not alone

Posted: 19th December, 2012 | 0 comments

No sooner had we completed our round up of the year than potentially the most momentous event of the year takes place: Facebook-owned Instagram’s attempt to unilaterally change its terms and conditions.

The London commuter paper The Metro reported it on its front page thus:
“Instagram has outraged its millions of users by threatening to sell their pictures for us in adverts.
“The photo-sharing site, bought earlier this year by Facebook, has updated its terms and conditions so it has control over the rights to any images which are…

In 2012 it became clear to everybody – big businesses, entrepreneurs, regulators and Governments, the general public and the media – that we need to re-evaluate personal data.

Organisations internationally are embracing a mindset shift. They are beginning to see that customer data are not just corporate assets. If we treat personal data as personal assets, pursue the potential of information as a tool in the hands of the individual and empower individuals as managers of their own data, then all sorts of innovation and growth opportunities fall out of the woodwork.

As attitudes are changing we are seeing action…

When open meets personal

Posted: 5th December, 2012 | 0 comments

With the explosion in volumes and types of data now being generated and collected it’s not surprising there’s also a proliferation of new data ‘movements’. There’s ‘Big Data’. The Internet of Things. The fast-developing personal data ecosystem.

And, yesterday, Open Data made its mark with a flourish – with the official launch of the Open Data Institute.

The ODI’s stated goal is to “catayse the evolution of an open data culture to create economic, environmental and social value. It will unlock supply, generate demand, create and disseminate knowledge to address local and global issues”.

At the heart of…

I’ve just had a big picture theoretical article on the nature of brands and branding published in a special edition of the Jourmal of Brand Management on ‘The New World of Brand’.

The article looks at developments in technology, in economics and economic theory, and psychology to examine marketing theories about what brands do and explains why ‘brand as information service’ strategies are becoming essential for most brands.

The article examines an oddity in the way marketing currently works. Companies work hard to make products that meet customer needs and that customers are keen to buy. They also work…

midata hackathon

Posted: 24th November, 2012 | 0 comments

Last weeked (17-18 November) was a world first - the first time a new type of data set was created: where individuals gathered up data about their own lives from a range of different sources including their energy consumption data, shopping (if they could get the data), spending through their banks and credit cards and so on.

With full respect for the individuals' privacy, a posse of developers then got to work to see what innovative new services they could come up with. The results were fascinating: completely new services in energy and money; exciting new ways to help individuals…

Our work for Innotribe, the innovation initiative of SWIFT (the global financial messaging service) is coming to fruition and we are delighted it will soon be made public. Over the last six months we have been part of an international team of experts working on an R&D project backed by the SWIFT Innotribe Incubation fund to develop a ‘Digital Asset Grid’.

The Digital Asset Grid is a new infrastructure for banks to provide a platform for secure peer to peer data sharing between trusted people, businesses, and devices. It’s a revolutionary idea and potentially game changing for the banking sector enabling…

midata principles gain ground

Posted: 14th October, 2012 | 0 comments

The evidence that midata is the way forward keeps coming. Last week Marketing magazine asked four senior brand leaders, ‘Could allowing consumers access to their data backfire on brands?’ Their resounding answer was that being transparent with consumer data, and enabling access to it, is the future for companies. Brands that realise the potential for personal information services enabled by data sharing will “be rewarded with increased loyalty.”

This is a follow up to the recent article on Tesco’s investment in Clubcard Play – Tesco’s new commitment to give consumers access to their own data to help them…

Just back from the World Economic Forum workshop in Brussels on ‘Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: Balancing Growth and Protection’.

The gist of WEF’s argument goes like this. Personal data is emerging as a hugely valuable economic asset – ‘the new oil’. Just like oil, if the value of this asset is to be realized it needs to flow, not remain stuck where it was created.  If personal data is flow, there must be trust and that means treating individuals less as passive data ‘subjects’ – the subject of organisations’ data gathering activities – and more as active…

Reinventing advertising

Posted: 20th September, 2012 | 0 comments

This week’s issue of Marketing Magazine carries a cover story written by me called ‘Beyond Advertising: Why Consumer Services Is Trumping Traditional Marketing’.

The key passage in the article goes like this:
"The simplest and most important driver of change is the basic fact of the information age. Not long ago – the pre-internet era of three TV stations for example – information/content was relatively scarce and available consumer attention was abundant. But now we’ve entered an era of information overload and clutter and the tables have turned. Power is shifting from the content/information provider to the attention owner.

Innovation opportunities of midata

Posted: 6th September, 2012 | 0 comments

According to Professor Nigel Shadbolt, the UK Government’s Information Advisor, interviewed on Radio 4’s You and Yours programme this week, the midata initiative will spur UK innovation. It will unlock and stimulate a whole range of new personal information management services to help people use their own data to support and inform them about their lives. Many of these services, he said, we can’t yet imagine, but some are on the horizon and a new UK industry will emerge.

This is what he said about what midata is aiming to address.

"The idea behind midata is that all of our interactions…

Why legislate on midata?

Posted: 7th August, 2012 | 0 comments

As some of you may know, Ctrl-Shift has been acting as a strategic advisors to the UK Government’s midata programme. Now the pace is accelerating decisively with the Government’s move to give UK consumers additional statutory rights to their data in portable electronic form.

Of course, decisions like this are political and made by ministers. We weren’t party to the political discussions. But from the specific perspective of midata itself here are some reasons why this initiative is a good move.

Consumer Minister Norman Lamb notes in his introduction to the consultation midata has made significant progress over the last…

Today marks an important milestone in the personal data landscape. The US based Respect Network – which has developed the award winning Respect Trust Framework enabling members to securely share identity and personal data – has announced two major corporate founding partners, leading global technology company Neustar and telecoms giant Swisscom.

It’s an important development for two reasons.

Firstly, it means that the concept of a Vendor Relationship Management network, one that connects people to people and people to companies in a trusted, two way information contract, has taken a major step towards market availability. It is the first global,…

Privacy as a personal setting

Posted: 9th July, 2012 | 0 comments

At the recent World Economic Forum Tiger Team meeting in London I gave a short presentation on the commercial opportunities opened up by empowering individuals with data. (If you want a copy of the presentation, please get in touch).

I outlined four unfolding trends:

Information as a tool in the hands of the individual – a ‘phase change’ (as WEF’s William Hoffman put it) from the old status quo where information was almost exclusively a tool in the hands of the organisation.
Individuals as managers of their own data. This is driving the rise of new…

Internet of Things Showcase

Posted: 5th July, 2012 | 0 comments

Last week we took part in the Technology Strategy Board’s Internet of Things Showcase.  We presented the results of our study (collaborating with University of Southampton and BT) which scrutinises what could make the transport and logistics sector increasingly ‘smart’ and highlights the barriers and commercial opportunities in a future IoT scenario. The large room was packed, but at frequent points you could hear a pin drop the audience were so attentive.

We were one of ten consortia coming together from across the UK to share our study learnings and the insights we’ve gained in this preliminary phase of work…

The pricing shift

Posted: 22nd June, 2012 | 0 comments

Interesting! According to an article in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review most companies' approach to pricing is 'antagonistic' to customers. Seeing pricing purely in terms of how to maximise revenues from each transaction, companies routinely put their customers' backs up, undermining relationships and, over time, their own businesses, warns pricing strategy expert Marco Bertini from London Business School.

Airlines offer a classic example of antagonistc pricing: a misleading headline price followed by extra, late-in-the-day charges for baggage, leg room, using a credit card, and so on. If you read economics textbooks this may be a perfect means…

Imagine a world where a company can refuse you a loan because your friends on Facebook have bad credit rating. When you get worse deals than others when buying online because a company has tracked your search patterns and know that you’re not much of a bargain hunter. You leave negative comments for a company on a review site and someone starts posting malicious information about you online which spreads like wildfire, leading to you losing your job.

These are just some of the problems that an increasing number of people could be facing in the digital age. This is…

WEF 'Tiger Team' meeting

Posted: 13th June, 2012 | 0 comments

Tomorrow a group of specially invited experts and leaders from across the emerging personal data landscape meet in London to discuss and review the latest outputs from the World Economic Forum’s Re-thinking Personal Data project. There will be contributors, who we have helped to bring together, from the telecoms, retail, financial services, media, advertising, government and technology sectors, comprising a mix of commercial, legal/policy and technical functions.

This international ‘Tiger Team’, managed by STL Partners with the support of other members of the Re-thinking Personal Data project team, will tackle some of the priority issues raised in WEF’s recent…

May 26 is an important date for UK websites and businesses. As from then, all businesses have to comply with the so-called Cookie law. The essence of this law is that users must be asked for their consent before cookies are used. We’ve wrestled with the practical implications of how to do this and this post sets out our thoughts.

Let’s get the important, but dull, points out of the way. The law is the law and you have to comply. We are neither lawyers nor experts so you shouldn’t assume these thoughts constitute legal advice. The law applies…

About a year ago, the World Economic Forum produced a report talking about personal data as 'a new asset class'. Some said it is 'the new oil' energising and greasing the wheels of the information age. But personal data isn't a traditional asset like oil in two critical respects.

First, when we collect, refine, process and use oil it has no feelings about that matter. But personal data - which is about persons - is different. Persons care about how their data is collected, refined and used and by whom. They want to have a say in the matter.

Second, the 'asset'…

The Intention Economy

Posted: 8th May, 2012 | 0 comments

“Customer power will be personal, not just collective. Each customer will come to market equipped with his or her own means for collecting and storing personal data, expressing demand, making choices, setting preferences, proffering terms of engagement, offering payments, and participating in relationships - whether those relationships are shallow or deep, and whether they last for moments or years. Those means will be standardised. No vendor will control them.”

This paragraph sums up the subject matter of Doc Searls' new book The Intention Economy - and the trend towards 'VRM' or Vendor Relationship Management.

I'll do a proper review…

Going it alone to search out and switch to a better deal is the orthodox route to better value in our energy, telecoms and financial services markets. Trouble is, trying to find a better deal in these markets can be like panning for gold: it’s difficult to know where to start, it’s time consuming, hard work and the chances of it paying off are slim. The mass consumer inertia that has come to characterise these markets is a predictable response to those high switching costs.

Is an alternative, straightforward route to better value now possible? One where an intermediary can…

PDS market worth £1bn

Posted: 1st May, 2012 | 0 comments

· New tools and services help consumers control their privacy and leverage personal data

· Significant commercial opportunity undetected by most businesses

· Global scramble for market leadership under way

A vibrant new market with a possible UK value of £1billion by 2016 is highlighted in our latest report.

Personal data stores can help individuals unlock the value from their data, whether it’s analysing electricity usage to check we’re on the best tariff, revealing how much we’re spending at certain retail outlets or keeping our personal information in a secure location under our control. Personal data stores (PDS) give consumers…