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The new personal data landscape report

Posted on: Tuesday 22nd of November 2011

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 own data and, as a result of this, there is an emerging market for personal data management services to capitalise on this opportunity. As individuals become managers of their own information they are becoming the natural point of integration of data about them and this is creating new sets of aggregated data of enormous value. So what we are seeing is the emergence of a complete new ecosystem of personal data management services and sources – a person-centric rather than organisation-centric ecosystem. These changes are happening outside of organisations’ systems, technologies and control but they are transforming the environment in which organisations do business.

There are four sections of the report:

Part 1: Drivers accelerating the control shift


There is a wide range of legal, regulatory, technological, commercial and consumer trends driving the control shift in the UK and internationally. The Government’s midata initiative is just one aspect. The US Government has already experimented with returning data to individuals with its Blue Button initiative to release medical records to war veterans. And with its Smart Disclosure initiative it looks like it’s following a similar path to the UK. The European Commission is also extremely interested in the potential of midata-style initiatives to empower individuals with the use of their own data. These and other policy developments outlined in the report, along with new technologies to enable permission-driven information sharing between parties and increasing entrepreneurial and commercial activity, are fostering consumer demand for information services.

Part 2: Individuals as data managers

The emerging landscape as individuals become data managers  has six components. These are:

  • Identity verification – companies providing individuals a token of verification. This is a huge market, poised to explode, with the potential to greatly reduce the hassle that individuals face when managing the information chores of everyday life.
  • Information as a tool in the hands of the individual – the second key driver of the new information landscape is that individuals are increasingly gathering and using information (including personal information) as a tool in their own hands. This trend has been well under way for over a decade now. It includes search, comparison, peer review and expert advice sites – and it is continuing to evolve. A key part of this evolution is that people don’t want just generalised advice and information: they want advice and information that meets their specific needs.
  • Personal data handbacks – this includes data collected by organisations about individuals activities and then released back to the individual.
  • Personal informatics – the fourth driver of the new personal data landscape is personal informatics – where individuals gather new, and previously uncaptured information about their own lives.
  • Peer to peer information sharing – then, of course, there is the social media revolution with individuals increasingly sharing all sorts of information with each other.
  • Information from ‘my head’ – lastly volunteered/input information about an individuals plans, priorities, preferences, goals, circumstances, etc.

New personal data management services are emerging to help individuals collect, collate, combine and use these six different streams of information to manage their lives better.

Part 3: Personal Information Management Services


The current assumption that only organisations collect information about individuals and not individuals about themselves encourages a blind spot and there are three new emerging ‘invisible’ markets.

  • The market for personal information management services (PIMS) – these are services such as Mydex, Singly, Personal, Trustfabric, and QiY to help individuals bring all these different data streams to together, to combine them, analyse them, use them and share them for their own purposes.
  • The market for life management services – services that enable individuals ‘join the dots’, integrate information about their own lives and that help people manage their lives more efficiently.
  • The third market is for decision support services – Ctrl-Shift estimates the market for consumer-decision support services is already worth £1.5bn in the UK – and growing fast.

Together they are creating an incredibly rich personal  information sharing landscape and a new industry of Personal Information Management Services (PIMS). Each one of these emerging markets deliver value by gathering and sharing information, delivering opportunities to cut costs, improve data quality and help innovate new services.

Part 4: A new competitive landscape

So what does this mean for organisations? The shift from a ‘data gathering’ to a ‘data sharing’ environment brings both opportunities and threats for organisations. We believe in this emerging landscape, organisations with trust-based information sharing relationships with customers will have significant competitive advantage over those with traditional data gathering relationships.

In the report we’ve shown a new personal data landscape and ecosystem is emerging and that as it does so it’s creating new markets, new data sharing opportunities and relationships, new data assets and new economic opportunities. New thinking is required to capitalise on these changes. We’d love to hear from you if you want to contribute to this vision or if you want to know more about the implications as they unfold, and we hope you find the report a useful stimulus.