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Tesco moves on midata

Posted on: Tuesday 2nd of October 2012

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 be used (as Tesco puts it) to help customers achieve their goals.

Clubcard was always seen as a goldmine for Tesco – now it can re-mine the same data to find diamonds of value for customers too.

Watch out as, over the next six months to a year, Tesco rolls out a series of ‘useful, fun’ information services that engage customers and open the door to a new and different information relationship with them.

There are three things to note about this.

First, the control shift as it relates to personal data is happening – much faster than many anticipated. With Tesco’s move, and with midata requirements to enable the release of data back to customers on the statute book due early next year, customer-facing companies now have about a year to get the house in order … before those who are riding the wave and those who are being left behind begins to show.

Second, as Tesco clearly recognizes, providing customers with new information services that use their data to add value in a fun way is opening up a new dimension of competition between brands.

Those who successfully provide “customers with simple, useful, fun access to their own data” are well placed to win customer trust, engage attention, elicit further volunteered information and create new, richer, channels of communication and interaction. Those that fail to do so risk finding customers using their midata rights to transfer their data to those who are adding more value. In the first case, the company is welcomed further into the customer’s life. In the second case, the company is effectively pushed into the background, treated firmly as an arms’ length supplier.

Third, Tesco is not talking about releasing data back to customers, only to give them access to their data. Though Tesco officially denies it, this is nevertheless a preparation for the new environment being created by midata. As Marketing magazine observes, “By investing in Clubcard Play [apparently the umbrella term for this initiative] Tesco is raising its personalization game to ensure consumers won’t see any point in passing their data to another brand’s applications.”

Whether that works for Tesco (or any other company for that matter) remains to be seen. For personal information services to really add value they usually require combinations of data from multiple sources. To create recommendation my next best book purchase for example, it’s better to have information about my complete library, not just the books I’ve bought from Amazon. This implies real data transfers – not just the ability to access and use data.

But that’s for next year. Right now, Tesco’s move ups the ante for the market as a whole.

Alan Mitchell