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A year of transition for personal data

Posted on: Monday 24th of March 2014

It’s really simple: personal data is valuable and useful to the people whose data it is.  Yes it’s valuable to organisations, but it’s also valuable to individuals who can use it to do the things that organisations do with data: generate insights, inform decisions, streamline and automate tasks and processes.

This way points to the creation of unique new data sets focused on each individual, new levels of data sharing driving a vast array of new private and public services.

This is the ‘Personal Information Economy’ discussed at our conference on Thursday March 20. At this buzzing event, we heard from innovators and entrepreneurs in this space, from Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt about the broad information economy opportunity, multiple perspectives on the challenges of building trust, plus deeper dives into specific opportunities in areas such as advertising and marketing, smart cities, digital identity and verified attributes.

It’s impossible to sum up or capture the richness of a day like this but two central message stood out.

A vibrant new market

First, this is a market in the making with all to play for. It’s a market where new players are piling in, where outcomes are uncertain, where there are still more questions than tried-and-tested answers – where things are moving very fast indeed. One piece of feedback we had from delegates is ‘more case studies please’. We’ll have lots more next year, given the range of exciting projects already under way.

It was inspiring, for example, to hear how Sonae, the leading Portuguese retailer, plans to give its loyalty scheme data back to its customers, via a personal data store, to help maintain trust as it seeks to evolve the scheme’s scope and functionality.

Winners and losers

Second, how to build and maintain trust around personal data is now rising rapidly up the corporate agenda with major brands asking searching questions such as ‘what exactly should our privacy policies and terms and conditions say?’, ‘how can we make managing preferences and permissions intuitive and easy?‘ and ‘what’s the best way of communicating with customers around these issues?’

This last question was informed by new research from Ctrl-Shift and GfK that demonstrated unequivocally that reassuring customers that ‘your data is safe with us’ positively encourages increased data sharing … but only up to a point. Too many reassurances reminds people that there are risks and dangers and becomes off-putting. So the obvious answer – ‘the more reassurances the better’ – is not necessarily the right answer.

  1. We’ll be returning to these themes, and many more, at PIE 2015. In the meantime, at Ctrl-Shift, we’re expecting to see three key developments over the next 12 months. First, many more leading brands and organisations will realise they really do need to ‘make sense’ of this new market: to build internal consensus and decide on the right courses of action. Second, experiments around new value propositions will multiply as the scale of the innovation opportunity begins to sink in. Finally, the race to place data relationships on a secure footing of trust will be well under way, with clear winners and losers beginning to emerge.