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The changing customer data landscape

Posted on: Tuesday 22nd of May 2012

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 much, and so on.  They will expect to be able to receive and use this data for their own purposes.

3. They will use a wide range of apps, tools and services to aggregate their own data to create a genuine single view of their own lives. And they will use this data to:

  • Understand their own behaviours and consumption patterns better
  • Get relevant, personalized advice from peers and experts
  • Make plans and set goals, and monitor their progress towards achieving these goals
  • Make better decisions and implement these decisions better
  • Manage their relationships with their suppliers better, telling them how they want the relationship to be conducted, when they want to be communicated with, about what
  • Automate and streamline admin chores such as form filling.

4. They will expect to be able to do this in ways where they remain in full control of what data they share with which companies and for what purposes.

5. Customer service will increasingly take the form of apps and services that help customers find and use the right combinations of information (both personal and non-personal) to help them do these things easily, quickly and with confidence.

6. Customers will view their data as a personal asset with financial and commercial value and see data sharing as part of a value exchange.

7. They will share sometimes large amounts of additional (and valuable) information with companies on a discretionary basis if they trust the company and if it adds value to their data.  They will ‘go dark’ on organisations they don’t trust and which fail to add value to their data.

8. Competition between companies for access to this ‘volunteered personal information’ (VPI) will be intense because it will be an important driver of competitive edge.

9. The priority right now is to develop a VPI strategy – of identifying exactly what information you would like customers to volunteer and how – and to start building the trust-based information sharing relationship that makes VPI possible.

Alan Mitchell