Items tagged "consumer empowerment"

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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.


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…

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 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…

Following the launch of the midata Innovation Lab (mIL) we spoke with Dan Bates, mIL Director, about the next phase for the lab, the innovation we can look forward to, and how businesses and individuals can get involved.

What's next post launch of the mIL?

The launch is of course just the start. The objective now is to help materially move the personal data debate forward in the UK, via practical activity with the different stakeholders. We have set up a number of  different learning streams of activity to cover the different angles - including development and consumer…

An interview with DuckDuckGo

Posted: 19th July, 2013 | 0 comments

DuckDuckGo is search engine with a unique selling point that it puts users’ privacy first. The Prism scandal created concern among web users as to what information companies like Google collect about them and how this data is used. In the two weeks following the NSA story, DuckDuckGo saw its web queries surge by 90% - a sign of growing consumer awareness and concern about online tracking.

DuckDuckGo does not track users and or bias results to what they think users might like to see. Instead they offer an instant answer platform, developed with partners Wolfram…

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…

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has officially announced the opening of the midata Innovation Lab (mIL) today. Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Today’s most successful businesses are the ones that are creative about building customer relationships. The new ’midata’ Lab is an exciting opportunity to put this to the test and explore how businesses could help customers use the data around their spending habits to make better choices.

“There is a lot to be gained from being open and using the information gathered on customers with their knowledge. Developing new and innovative ways to see data also…

A few months ago we discussed The Flip – organisations turning their knowledge, expertise and information into a customer service.  A new app launched in Australia that allows McDonald’s customers to track the ingredients in their burgers shows one example of The Flip in action.

‘Track My Macca’s is a transparency tool that informs consumers about where McDonald’s sources ingredients for the food they are eating. By scanning QR codes on the side of Big Mac and other boxes, consumers can follow the journey of their meal’s ingredients and see videos about the farmers, bakers and fisherman that…

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…

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…

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…

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…

On Tuesday the Government announced that Mydex, a Community Interest Company/social enterprise and one of the Personal Data Store providers in our recent PDS market review, is one of a select group of private sector Identity Providers that will start offering an identity assurance service to DWP customers.

As part of our analysis of the announcement we highlighted our plan to conduct some interviews with those involved in the market to gain some new insights into where the IDA programme leads us. Claire Hopkins spoke to Mydex CEO David Alexander about Mydex’s view and unique contribution*.


Tesco moves on midata

Posted: 2nd October, 2012 | 0 comments

Marketing magazine carries a story this week about a new job ad from Tesco for a Product Manager ‘My Data’.

The successful candidate, it says, “will define the strategy to develop and support the deployment of Group-wide capability to deliver market-leading products and games which give our Clubcard customers simple, useful, fun access to their own data to help them plan and achieve their goals.”

There we have it: the paradigm shift in personal/customer data grasped and understood by the country’s biggest retailer. Not only can customer data be used to help organisations achieve their goals, it can also…

Are you interested to find out the future legislative, technical and commercial developments in the personal data landscape? We’ve created a dynamic online timeline charting the evolution of key events over the next five years as we see it. This will be a living resource; we’ll update the projection on a regular basis and if you have any contributions or comments we'd love to hear from you. We hope it will be a really useful tool for those who are investigating their opportunities in the market and wanting to inform their strategy and approach.

Drawing on a lively…

Demos report: The Data Dialogue

Posted: 25th September, 2012 | 0 comments

Think tank Demos has published an important report, The Data Dialogue, which concludes that, “none of the potential gains of the information revolution can be realised unless people are at the heart of any new settlement”. It highlights the agenda shift that needs to happen if businesses are to capitalise on the new wave of innovation and opportunities which we predict can be created when information becomes a tool in the hands of the individual.

Demos state, "Data and information sovereignty is the next big consumer issue. The Populus survey suggests that people share an increasing amount of information…

In this summer issue we cover our forthcoming research schedule, an update on the midata consultation and some new start-ups.

Ctrl-Shift research

Increasingly, we’re being asked many of the the same questions about the emerging personal data market so we’re focusing our forthcoming Autumn/Winter research reports on developing answers to them.

In a world drowning in data, what infrastructure, rules and commercial models enable the right information to be shared at the right time with the right people? This information logistics challenge is easy to talk about but hard to do. Our forthcoming report on Information Logistics will…

midata news coverage

Posted: 22nd August, 2012 | 0 comments

There has been some great BBC broadcast news coverage today of the midata consultation. Hopefully it will raise awareness of the importance and opportunities of the programme and its game changing potential for all UK organisations.

Liz Brandt, Ctrl-Shift CEO, was interviewed on Radio Five Live’s ‘Wake Up to Money’ programme.  It was short and sweet and you can listen to it from 26.40 mins into the programme.

Liz, who has been advising the Government on its midata strategy from its inception, emphasised the empowering opportunity of midata for consumers – enabling them to use new apps, tools and…

Competing for customer loyalty

Posted: 1st August, 2012 | 0 comments

Loyal customers are the bedrock of business and the benefits of loyalty are well understood. But what does customer loyalty actually mean in today’s changing environment, what are the drivers and factors that determine loyalty, and what are the opportunities for those who are getting it right?

These are the key questions we are asking as we initiate a board level strategic study into the changes affecting customer loyalty in banking. Here’s a little more about what we are doing and why.

The shifting sands of customer loyalty

Loyalty currently suffers from confused terminology. People use the ‘L’ word to…

In this issue we highlight the findings of our study into the impact of new services using Volunteered Personal Information, an insight into developments in the ‘Internet of Things’, and that we looking for someone new to join our team.

Don’t target me...ask me

We’ve just finished some research looking at a group of services that that use Volunteered Personal Information (VPI) to provide relevant content - offers, recommendations and adverts. In our study, sponsored by nFluence Media, three new services, Visual DNA, Dealboard and Hunch, were stacked up against loyalty schemes, global brands like Amazon, Facebook and Google,…

Don't target me, ask me

Posted: 24th July, 2012 | 0 comments

We've been pondering some mega-trends on this site for some while.

1. The rise in the volumes of data available (so called Big Data).

2. The lack of efficiency in the advertising model.

3. How technology is now literally in the hands of the customer.

Each is a driver of change and combined they create a massive opportunity for a re-alignment of the relationship between buyers and sellers. Understanding how to illicit and use Volunteered Personal Information (VPI) is at the heart of being able to do this. But in order for the far reaching opportunities of VPI to be realised, people have to take time to contribute…

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,…

Media's perfect storm

Posted: 12th July, 2012 | 0 comments

One of the sessions at the recent World Economic Forum Tiger Team meeting in London focused on rethinking advertising. This session made it absolutely clear: traditional media companies – in TV and press in particular – need to reinvent their business models.

The control shift gives them an opportunity to do so.

The story so far

Advertising funded 20th century media companies were hugely successful. There were many combinations and permutations: high reliance on display advertising vs high reliance on classified advertising; free vs a cover price. But underneath the nuances the model was pretty simple: advertising funded journalism, journalism attracted…

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…

New decision-making service

Posted: 28th June, 2012 | 0 comments

Today billmonitor launches Bill Check-up an extension of their independent comparison service that enables mobile phone users to work out if they are on the best value phone contract. What's really interesting about it is the way this service turns decision-support around so that it's not just about switching but can be used as a loyalty builder as well.

In our recent work on decision-making services – services that empower consumers by helping them to make better decisions and change their own behaviours – we highlighted how such services are creating value through empowering people to make better and more informed…

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…

The social media bubble

Posted: 13th June, 2012 | 0 comments

In a fascinating article on ‘The Facebook Fallacy’ Michael Wolff notes that:
“The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people's behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command real attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising's impact.”
“I don't know anyone in the ad-Web business,” he continues, “who isn't engaged…

Microsoft’s decision to set ‘do not track’ as the default option is another game changer in the fast moving world of the control shift.

It does two things.

First, it forces the other browser providers to respond. What will Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari do now? Whatever their response, Microsoft is forcing them to grapple publicly with a central control shift theme: should information be a tool in the hands of the individual, or a tool in the hands of people who gather information about individuals?

More specifically, what are browsers for? Is it their job to help…

In this newsletter we cover the latest global and local developments in the personal information market. We trail our next report on Identity Assurance, already a £300m market, and give a round-up of the month's news.

Unfolding developments

The market for personal information has changed significantly, even in the last month, and we are delighted to see a whole series of exciting developments.

In our report on personal data stores (PDS) we’ve looked at the possibility that there could be as many as 100m examples of personal data handbacks in the UK this year. We predict that over…

Last week I met with some people from a large high street retailer, reviewing the company's strategy over the next five years. We talked about where the customer/personal data landscape would be by then. This is a summary of what I said.

1. A significant (and growing) number of customers will be using personal data stores or equivalent services to help them manage their own personal information.  Many of these will be companies’ most valuable customers.

2. Customers will expect the companies they deal with to provide complete access to their customer data e.g. what they bought, when, for how…

Scottish Power leads on midata

Posted: 17th May, 2012 | 0 comments

Today, Scottish Power becomes the first company to start releasing data back to customers as part of the midata programme.  Midata is a UK Government-backed initiative to encourage companies to release data back to customers in a portable electronic format so they can use this data for their own purposes. Ctrl-Shift is advising the Department of Business on midata.

We spoke to Andrew Ward, Operations Director at Scottish Power, about its involvement in midata.

What are you doing?

We are releasing customer consumption histories in an electronic format, so they can take their own information to find the…

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…

It has been a busy month where we have attended and hosted several events. They highlight the way that public opinion, technology, regulatory and commercial pressures are all lining up to unleash a sea change in the personal data landscape. What’s also becoming clear is that the UK is leading the world in giving individuals control over their data. In this issue we’ll tell you about these events, our new research and a smattering of market news.

A £1bn opportunity?

Our latest research (to be published on Monday April 30) is a comprehensive review of all the players in the…

The control shift

Posted: 23rd April, 2012 | 1 comments

As a result of our discussions at our last Explorers’ Club event we have created a Infographic (see below) mapping the timeline of changes in the personal data landscape. To download simply right click on the image.

We’ve mapped out the events and predictions from now until 2017 looking through the lenses of: social and cultural changes; corporate commercial activity; entrepreneurial activity; technology; and legislation, regulation, policies, protocols and standards.

The timeline suggests that market savvy consumers will soon start taking control of their data (as Tim Berners Lee has recently urged); short-term winners will be entrepreneurs (see

In our newsletter this month we have new research to tell you about. We also highlight our project looking at the Internet of Things market and round off with some key news, including some international developments.

Decisions Decisions    

We’ve published our briefing paper about the development of a revolutionary and disruptive industry for consumer decision-support services. These services empower consumers by helping them to make better decisions and change their own behaviours. The report explains why this revolution is happening now, what forms it’s taking, and what its impacts are: this is a new market that changes…

Cutting to the chase

Posted: 27th February, 2012 | 0 comments

I was talking with someone over the weekend who suggested that when you meet somebody who is expert in a field you aren't familiar with, ask them to tell you the two things you need really need to know.

Applying this to the control shift I came up with the following.

1) Thanks to the information age, consumer empowerment is an inexorable trend which is taking many forms.

2) Empowering consumers opens up far more business opportunities than trying to control them.

Can anyone improve on that?

Alan Mitchell

In this issue we highlight our forthcoming reports each of which delivers fresh insight into emerging markets. Also covered are some suggestions drawn from our recent research about what constitutes best practice in building positive, two-way data sharing customer relationships. The market round-up includes some of the key news this month.

Understanding growth markets

Over the next few months our research is focused on some of the new market opportunities emerging as a result of developments in the empowered consumer marketplace. Two new reports will provide evidence and analysis of the implications and possibilities created by developments across these different…

midata and the innovation opportunity

Posted: 15th February, 2012 | 0 comments

Following the recent London Green Hackathon, the winning hacks have now been announced. It’s inspiring to see what a few ingenious minds can create over a weekend using only data that’s freely available. When organisations start releasing customer data in a portable, reusable way (for example, as part of the Government's midata programme), innovative applications will offer much, much more. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which is running the midata programme, supported the Hackathon to get a flavour of just what kind of innovations the future could hold.

The data used in the hackathon…

At our Explorers’ Club event last week we had a fascinating session mapping out the events and predictions from now until 2017 that will influence the development of the control shift and evolving consumer empowerment.

We honed in on just one aspect of the control shift – how personal data is managed, collected and used – and grouped predictions in terms of:

social and cultural changes;
corporate commercial activity;
entrepreneurial activity;
technology; and
legislation, regulation, policies, protocols and standards.

With 25 knowledgeable attendees – representing large corporations, small entrepreneurial businesses, suppliers of new personal information…

Phew! It has taken us six months but we got there in the end. Today (27 January), in the lead up to Data Protection Day (28th January) we’ve published new research assessing the privacy policies of the UK’s top 100 online retailers – the sector where many consumers most commonly experience the benefits and pitfalls of e-commerce.

We don’t think anyone has ever done this before and now we’ve got to the end, we’re not surprised. The project kicked off in the summer of 2011 when we started to think through an objective assessment of the state of the nation…

In this first issue of the year we highlight some of the proposals in the leaked draft of the European Data Protection legislation and we’ll give you a preview of our research looking at the privacy policies of UK online retailers. Also covered is our thinking as we debunk a few myths in a forthcoming series of blog posts ‘5 ways to misdirect resources in 2012’. In the market round-up we’re spoilt for choice but have picked out some of the key news.

EU law looks set to mandate electronic data handbacks

We are expecting to see the first draft…

Chris Nutt joins Ctrl-Shift

Posted: 18th January, 2012 | 0 comments

We're delighted to announce a new addition to the Ctrl-Shift team. Chris Nutt will be joining us at the beginning of February to help us develop our business.

Chris has a 20 year track record in helping organisations harness technology – mainly in the retail area – and so adds considerable experience to us. He has worked as a strategic advisor with some of the UK's most successful brands. His experience ranges from designing and implementing customer insight solutions through to the development and management of strategies for transforming multi-channel businesses.

We’re anticipating 2012 to be an exciting growth year…

New digital identity service

Posted: 10th January, 2012 | 0 comments

Last week in our blog post on consumer empowerment trends in 2012 we predicted that managing personal reputation and identity will gain even greater prominence this year as people increasingly conduct and manage their lives online. The first significant development in this space took place yesterday when Miicard (which provides a digital passport to prove who you say you are) and Callcredit (one of the UK’s leading credit reference agencies) announced a strategic partnership. They are bringing to market a completely new consumer-friendly Electronic Identity and Verification (eID&V) service removing the need for paper based checks such as…

Consumer empowerment in 2012

Posted: 5th January, 2012 | 0 comments

So what trends will take shape in 2012 as the control shift continues in this era of consumer empowerment?

Consumers will continue to assert their ‘voice’ harnessing social media to organise themselves and share information. This level of active participation as people engage more vocally with organisations and each other is likely to grow and increase in momentum.

Using technology people will connect and collaborate in new ways causing disruption to established order. People’s shopping habits will continue the trend from ‘bricks’ to better-informed ‘clicks’. Consumers will be more active and demanding in their relationships with businesses; ‘I like this’ or…

Lean and consumer empowerment

Posted: 21st December, 2011 | 0 comments

A video of a talk I gave recently to a conference of lean practitioners has just gone up on YouTube. In it I discuss two themes.

First I argue that, as individuals emerge as managers of their own data and with voice – the ability to express their plans, preferences and specifications to suppliers – the lean goals of making exactly to demand and getting things right first time on time can now be taken to a new level.

There are two ways of thinking about lean. The first, traditional factor, treats ‘the customer’ as an out-there exogenous factor:…

Milestones in the control shift

Posted: 15th December, 2011 | 0 comments

So much has happened and changed in 2011 and the control shift is well underway. We've captured below some of the significant milestones that have unfolded this year with links to the relevant news items taken from our Market Watch.

Consumer empowerment

Consumer habits are rapidly changing driven by technology and use of social media. Consumers are becoming hyper connected and active participants in markets and they are recognising the power of acting collectively (think Occupy London). They are changing their shopping habits: according to Reevoo’s research nearly 90% of respondents would not purchase a product before reading others’…

An inertia busting business model

Posted: 13th December, 2011 | 0 comments

Here is an interesting talk by Consumer Focus’ Richard Bates at the Government’s recent conference on Collective Purchasing.

The core idea is how to take universal human tendencies – such as being a tad lazy, and putting things off to tomorrow – and turn them into something that can be used to empower consumers rather than disempower.

The issue Richard tackles here is inertia. Each of us has to manage a range of accounts with a number of different suppliers: gas, electricity, phone, mobile phone, broadband, car insurance, home insurance, travel insurance, ISAs and other savings accounts, credit cards,…

Spring 2012 research schedule

Posted: 1st December, 2011 | 0 comments

We're now planning our next research reports and we'd like your input.

We're already committed to two reports (see below) and would like to choose two more from the options list. Feedback very welcome.

Privacy comparisons. Which of the top 100 e-commerce e-tailers has the best privacy policy and which has the worst?

Decision-making market. As a follow-on from our work on personal information management services (PIMS), we look at the broad scope of suppliers in this market and chart what benefits consumers get from making better decisions.

Options for early 2012 -

The Personal Data Store (PDS) market.…

Playing down good news isn’t something one expects from politicians these days, but there’s at least one real driver for growth buried in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement. In it he announced new Open Data measures, and this signals a battery of initiatives that will present new and exciting opportunities to outperform our decreased growth forecast. According to the Cabinet Office the measures will, ‘open up public sector data to make travel easier and healthcare better, and create significant growth for industry and jobs in the UK.’ More Open Data will ‘allow entrepreneurs to develop useful applications for business and consumers’.…

The new personal data landscape

Posted: 22nd November, 2011 | 1 comments

At our recent event ‘To hoard or to share: midata and the personal data-sharing revolution’ Alan Mitchell discussed the Government’s midata programme in the broader context of changes to the personal data landscape. We’ve now published a report on the New Personal Data Landscape that identifies these transformational trends, highlights the emerging market for new personal data management services and analyses the opportunities and threats for organisations.

For the last fifty years organisations have had a monopoly on the collection and use of customer data. But this is changing. Individuals are starting to collect and manage their…

Our midata event takes place tomorrow and we wanted to say thank you to our sponsors Mydex and Callcredit for supporting us. Both organisations provide revolutionary services embracing and underpinning the new personal data landscape.

Tom Ilube from Callcredit will be giving an update at the event on Noddle a ‘poster child’ of midata. The service simply turns the existing personal credit rating on its head. Usual practice for credit reports is that they are requested by the credit provider at the end of a sales process. But when it is launched later this year, Noddle will allow any…

midata news coverage

Posted: 4th November, 2011 | 0 comments

There's been quite a lot of news coverage of the midata launch - which is about time given its potential long term significance.

The BBC has a vox pop from midata chair Prof Nigel Shadbolt.

The Wall Street Journal asks some pertinent questions about how these ideas need to be packaged and presented.

The FT reports on Ctrl-Shift's estimate that the first round of midata could involve 20 million individuals.

Ctrl-Shift's press release about midata identified three new and very large growth markets made possible by midata.  The very existence of these markets has been rendered invisible…


Today the following businesses announced their commitment to the midata principle of releasing customers’ data back to them in a portable electronic form: Avoco Secure; billmonitor; British Gas; Callcredit; EDF Energy; E.ON; Garlik; Google; Lloyds Banking Group; MasterCard;; Mydex; npower; RBS; Scottish Power; Scottish Southern Energy; The UK Cards Association; Three; and Visa.

At Ctrl-Shift we’ve been talking about midata for a while now, partly because we’ve been advising the Government on the programme, but mainly because we genuinely believe it marks the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way companies and customers manage their relationships…

Richard Anson to speak at midata event

Posted: 1st November, 2011 | 0 comments

The countdown to Ctrl-Shift’s midata event, 'to hoard or to share: midata and the personal data sharing revolution’, which takes place a week tomorrow, has started. We’re delighted that Richard Anson, Founder and CEO of Reevoo, will be taking the stage.

Reevoo is a great example of the new wave of decision support services using personal data. It’s taken an ad hoc consumer activity - posting the odd review here and there - and turned it into a disciplined, structured process: carefully collecting reviews from only known buyers of products and slicing and dicing the resulting information in multiple…

Theo Bertram, UK Policy Manager for Google, will talk about data openness and transparency at Ctrl-Shift’s forthcoming event ‘to hoard or to share: midata and the personal data sharing revolution’ on 9th November.

Theo will showcase Google Dashboard as a great example of a ‘midata-enabled’ service – a service which releases back to customers the data held on them in an electronic, reusable format. All the data generated by people when they are signed in to their Google Account is transparent on the Dashboard, users have options to update and delete their data, change settings, and control their experience, and…

Consumer Focus, the statutory consumer champion for England, Wales and Scotland, has asked Ctrl-Shift to add to its body of research regarding how use of the internet and new technologies have made powerful new approaches to consumer empowerment possible. Specifically we have been asked to help build an inventory of all the potential consumer risks and downsides of the emerging digital age.

The goal of this research is to build a publicly accessible database of all the potential ‘digital detriments’, to update this database as new issues arise. This is to provide an understanding of what the issues are for…

Yesterday’s Energy Summit saw the first significant announcement of the Government’s midata programme, which we expect to gather pace over the autumn.

Government, consumer groups including Citizens Advice Bureau, the six largest energy suppliers and industry regulator Ofgem agreed a range of measures to empower consumers to save money on their gas and electricity bills. One of the measures announced is to encourage switching by people between suppliers to find the best, most suitable energy deal. To facilitate this happening the energy companies have agreed to give consumers access to their personal energy usage data in electronic format as…

Nigel Shadbolt, Chair of the Government’s midata programme, last week provided a robust response to Steven Robertson’s comments about the programme published in Retail Week. Steven, who is Director General of the Retail Consortium, commented in the article that, “The Government’s talking about phone and utility companies feeding cost and usage figures back to customers (don’t they do that already?). But it’s not at all clear exactly what data it believes retailers have and what it thinks can be done with that.”

Nigel in his response, published last Friday in Retail Week 'Letters to the Editor', makes it clear that the…

Exciting times - a new tipping point

Posted: 23rd September, 2011 | 0 comments

Many of you familiar with our work will have heard us use the phrase "tipping point"; and one of these may well have emerged with Facebook Gestures - as one commentator put it Prepare for the Oversharing Explosion. Well, we think we've reached a smaller one, albeit still significant, in our business - it is time to expand! It's exciting and you may be able to help us.

First up, we're after two business development professionals. And no, we're not using BDM as a euphemism for sales. We need two people who can listen carefully to our clients'…

Autumn 2011 research programme

Posted: 5th September, 2011 | 0 comments

We're now planning our Autumn research programme and are looking for input on the top three projects and some suggestions for what we should cover in early 2012.

October - PIMS 2 - the personal information management market

This report is about the market that changes markets - how third party vendors are helping consumers work across markets.

Building on Ctrl-Shift’s 2010 initial foray into this market, the report is focused on how services are being built to allow consumers to keep information about themselves in one easy to manage place. The report will include updates on Mint, MoneyStrands, Google…

Just come across the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee’s report on Government’s use of IT. Entitled “recipe for rip-offs: time for a new approach” it covers lots of things but one in particular struck my eye.

Here are its conclusions on the specific issue of Personal Data Ownership.

“Giving control of personal data to the individual has the potential to improve data quality while reducing both costs and risks. Individuals are used to controlling their own data with private sector companies, such as Amazon and with utility companies.
Moving to a model where the citizen maintains…

In this month’s issue we highlight our new briefing paper on the government’s Identity Assurance programme, give an update on progress with mydata,  and cover the knotty issue of informed consent. This is all followed by a quick round-up of some interesting market news

Identity Assurance

Instead of establishing a huge, centralised National Identity Scheme, the aim of the government’s Identity Assurance programme is to establish a decentralised market of competing private sector identity providers. Each will provide an identity assurance service, so that public sector and other providers can be confident of the identity of…

We are setting out to track the ‘control shift’ through a tracking survey that will, over time, provide evidence of which changes are unnfolding, where, at what pace, with what impacts and implications. Our initial research is now available and it sets a benchmark to track that progress.

The research is based on a GB representative sample of nearly 1500 consumers surveyed in April 2011. Fieldwork was conducted between 28 April and 5 May 2011, with 1464 adults responding.

After the raw data was collated (data tables are available), Ctrl-Shift analysed the data to draw its conclusions. The analysis looks…

The Ctrl-Shift Explorers' Club met on May 12 to share experiences and understanding of the changing consumer market place. It was an eclectic mix. Attendees included large corporations and small businesses; public and private sectors; different vertical markets; and suppliers of marketing services and the creators of some of the new tools available to consumers.

The event had plenty of time for discussion around a number of topics we've been researching including

The Government’s ‘mydata’ initiative - what the paper says, what the implications are, and what companies should do to take advantage of the hidden radicalism in this…

May newsletter

Posted: 6th May, 2011 | 0 comments

The May newsletter covers the Government's mydata, a Europe wide assessment of consumer empowerment, a market round-up and to plug your chance to meet the Control Shift team next week.
The Government’s mydata initiative - covered in our last newsletter -  is moving to its next stage. We’re glad to announce that Ctrl-Shift will be working with Department of Business Innovation and Skills as a member of the Project Board to set up the programme of work and make the strategy a reality.

The initiative aims to encourage companies holding customer data to release the data back…

Defining 'empowerment'

Posted: 3rd May, 2011 | 0 comments

I’ve been looking again at the new EU Barometer on Consumer Empowerment and I’m not impressed. It makes me realise how different definitions of empowerment can be. In my view, the EU’s definition of empowerment (see ‘Barometer Model’ below) is narrow to the point of misleading.


It focues on three broad pillars of empowerment: skills (such as the ability to calculate interest rates), awareness of legislation (e.g. money back guarantees), and behaviours (such as ‘reading terms and conditions’).


This definition of empowerment has three characteristics.


First, it is highly individualistic, pitting the individual against the organisation…

A new EU-wide research survey published in April 2011, has shown that the UK lags behind many other countries according to a consumer empowerment index. The research revealed that less than 50% of the 56,000 respondents (in 29 countries answering 70 questions) felt confident, knowledgeable and protected as consumers.

The European Commission said that the "results show that consumer awareness and skills are worryingly low. However, there is a considerable potential to empower consumers and thereby to improve consumer welfare and reduce consumer detriment. The internet and the media have a key role to play in…

Innovation happening in health

Posted: 20th April, 2011 | 0 comments

Attended an excellent event at Nesta this morning. Four great speakers all revealing how new services designed around the user are making real savings for the NHS and other parts of the NHS. The introductory remark was that if 1% of consultations could take place at home, this would save the NHS £250m a year. It's a huge saving and opportunity.

* Adil Abrar, founder and director, Sidekick Studios. Sidekick are behind the Buddy project, part of NESTA’s Reboot Britain programme looking at new solutions for public services, helping patients with anxiety and depression to track…

The Government’s new programme 'Better Choices: Better Deals' represents a significant acceleration in the trend towards consumer empowerment. They even call it a ‘Consumer Empowerment Strategy’. We’ve prepared a mydata briefing on what this means for organisations. It’s free!


The announcement is a first on two fronts:

1) Its ‘mydata’ programme encourages companies to release data they hold about individuals back to them, so that they can use this data for their own purposes. This is the first major Government initiative, globally, towards a changed personal data consensus: personal data is a personal asset, and individuals should have…

Government's Mydata strategy

Posted: 12th April, 2011 | 0 comments

Today the Government launched its new Better Choices: Better Deals Consumer Empowerment strategy, of which Mydata is a key part.


Mydata is an initiative to encourage businesses to release data back to individuals in a portable re-usable way - so that the data becomes a useful resource for the individual as well as for the company.


This is a landmark move towards personal information empowerment.  Ctrl-Shift attended a special Roundtable at No 10 Downing Street as part of the consultations around this proposal. I was asked to give a short presentation. Here is what I said:

What does the phrase 'consumer empowerment' mean to you?

Depending who you are it may seem like a threat, or 'about time too'; or a 'trend' to be observed. Right now however, very few people see it as a business opportunity.

That needs to change, because empowering consumers is probably one of the biggest opportunities for innovation and growth we've seen for decades. We (Ctrl-Shift) have just published a report which begins to outline the scale of this opportunity.

Called 'Personal Information Management Services - A Market Poised to Disrupt', the report makes this simple observation: everyone wants to…

We're still progressing our thinking on how to provide the consumer side of the evidence of the control shift. Thanks to those who commented on the original (either on site or via email). We are now close to our final questions (see below). We're looking to get these out on a survey before Easter and reporting back at our Explorers' Club in May.

Our Questions:

Trend: information as a tool in the hands of the individual (decision-making)

1. When making a non-routine purchase, the first thing I do is seek out independent information…

I’ve just been reading the World Economic Forum’s report Personal Data: The Emergence of New Asset Class.


Here are some of the key points in the report.  First, it highlights the vast amounts of personal data that are now being generated and that this data (‘digital data created by and about people’) “is generating a new wave of opportunity for economic and societal value creation.”


It continues: “Increasing the control that individuals have over the manner in which their personal data is collected, managed and shared will spur a host of new services and applications. As some…

Global opt outs don't work

Posted: 24th June, 2010 | 0 comments

It's our job here at Ctrl-Shift HQ to track what marketing and customer service departments are up to but sometimes that does cross over into our personal lives. So this brief post (well rant) is a result of stuff I've been sent at home that really does highlight the major challenges that industry faces in getting "opt-in" sorted - or they will be faced with a major trust problem.

First up, a leading telecoms supplier sent me an offer for a broadband and call offer. Apart from the fact that the small print was in light grey (and close to…

Two more articles explore the on-going control shift.

The first article comes from McKinsey and discusses the effects of word-of-mouth on marketing. The article starts off thus:

“The sheer volume of information available today has dramatically altered the balance of power between companies and consumers. As consumers have become overloaded, they have become increasingly skeptical about traditional company-driven advertising and marketing and increasingly prefer to make purchasing decisions largely independent of what companies tell them about products.
This tectonic power shift toward consumers reflects the way people now make purchasing decisions ….”

Unfortunately, the rest of the…

CRM: a worm turns

Posted: 19th March, 2010 | 0 comments

I’ve nicked the following extracts from a report by Neil Davey at

Of course we’ve been saying this sort of stuff for years. But it’s good that people like Gartner are finally getting round to recognising it: it shows which way the wind is blowing.

“Kicking off the London Summit, Gartner VP Steve Prentice painted a daunting portrait of the sector, describing how issues relating to data, reputation, trust and customer empowerment are all undermining CRM efforts. In short, customer relationship management’s days may be numbered, he said, as a new age of ‘customer managed relationships’ begins.
"Among the…

The four waves of consumer empowerment

Posted: 11th December, 2009 | 0 comments

To be honest we weren’t that surprised at the results of our recent research: for all the talk about consumer empowerment most consumers don’t feel that empowered … yet.

Does that mean ‘the trend towards increased consumer empowerment’ is all hype? I don’t think so. I think it means we need to dig deeper into what ‘consumer empowerment’ actually looks like, and how (and therefore) where it is unfolding.

The first level is choice. The classic arena of choice is between competing products and services. More recently however, consumers have also gained much greater choice over the sources of…

Are consumers really empowered?

Posted: 25th November, 2009 | 0 comments

Just received some new research we’ve been doing into consumers’ own perceptions of how empowered they are. It throws up some interesting dichotomies.

It’s a common theme nowadays that thanks to the Internet, social networking and so on, consumers are much more empowered than they once were. For example in a speech last month Asda CEO Andy Bond said:

“There’s no doubt we’re seeing the dawn of a new age. It’s no longer about the traditional holders of    power and influence, but where consumers dictate the way we do business and the products we sell.”

“The digital era has brought…

Consumer Empowerment: Wave One

Posted: 17th April, 2009 | 1 comments

In one sense, consumers have always been ‘empowered’ by choice: being able to choose between competing products forces suppliers to compete for their customers’ custom.

Most of the fruits and benefits of free market competition derive from this choice-driven ‘empowerment’. Without it, suppliers would have few incentives to invest in innovation, better quality, lower prices, and so on. So ‘freedom of choice’ is the launching pad of consumer empowerment – and it’s been around a long time.

However, the way choice actually works in modern markets doesn’t always deliver the empowerment it promises.

Until very recently, consumer choice was constrained…

Why do I believe this issue of ‘consumer empowerment’ to be so important?

The upfront answer is that appearances can be deceptive. The appearance is that we are basically dealing with ‘more of the same’: more informed, more savvy consumers who are better able to make better decisions.

But I would argue that the forms of consumer ‘empowerment’ that are emerging right now reach much, much further; that over the coming years they will transform how organisations go-to-market and deal with their customers, what they bring to market, and how they create it.

Even more fundamentally, the new forms of…

Why Consumer Empowerment?

Posted: 25th February, 2009 | 0 comments

Because it’s something every organisation needs to come to grips with. Its implications are counterintuitive, and they include the fact that empowering consumers/customers is fast becoming the way for organisations to add value.

I can see three waves of consumer empowerment. The first wave revolved around consumers exercising choice between competing products and services. That’s as old as the hills.

The second wave, which only really got going about ten years ago, revolves around consumers exercising choice between competing sources of information – why bother paying attention to info that gets in the way of what you want to do,…