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Innovation opportunities of midata

Posted on: Thursday 6th of September 2012

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 increasingly are leaving a trail behind in the digital world, electronically when we pay for things using cash cards, and when we pay on the web. The real issue is when you integrate this together you get a very complete picture. Now companies and businesses have been using these insights for some considerable time and are proud of the insights they can get on how consumers purchase, what they purchase, when and how, so they can advertise or change their stock lines. Consumers don’t have the same benefits. There is a kind of an asymmetry of information here. What we are trying to do with midata is get that information back to consumers, who have a perfect right to it we would argue, and who will be able to inform their own decisions about what they buy and whether there are better places they can get the service from, and so on.”

As well as the new information services and apps that will transpire in response to customers’ need to manage and understand their data, Professor Shadbolt also mentioned how the existing technology of QR codes could be used by customers to get a complete view of their till purchases – enabling them to be more informed when using price comparison services.

“In the retail world we can begin to see all sorts of opportunities perhaps in an area where you want to compare the price of your shopping basket across the high street, where you might actually be looking to shop more healthily. We know all of this information  is understood by the retail high street in the kind of inventory they hold, but the new sorts of services that could emerge between consumer and provider, and between sets of consumers, could be really very very impressive.”

Professor Shadbolt recognised the practical implementation issues which midata is grappling with, but he highlighted that the opportunity costs for businesses are worth it. He emphasised what our research confirms loudly and clearly. Personal information management services, enabled by midata, will be one of the fastest growing 21st century industries.

Here’s a link to the Radio 4 interview.