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MesInfos UK visit

Posted on: Thursday 3rd of May 2012

Last week Ctrl-Shift hosted an intensive and fascinating two day event for the participants of the French MesInfos programme. MesInfos is run by the French think tank Fing and has similar aims to the UK Government’s midata initiative to release customer data back to customers so they can use it for their own purposes. The delegation included representatives from Société Générale, Le Groupe La Poste, Monoprix and Orange-France Telecom Group.

To help them get a flavor of midata and the changing personal data landscape we lined up an impressive array of briefings from the likes of: Visa Europe; Callcredit; HSBC; Lloyds Banking Group; Google; Which?; the Information Commissioner’s Office; and from new businesses offering innovative personal data services.

We had special sessions on how to develop support for midata internally, the legal and trust framework, consumer support and the business opportunity.

These are some of the key learnings which emerged and the issues and questions that need to be resolved as organisations start to embrace richer information sharing with their customers.

In terms of learnings.

  • The UK’s big six energy companies will begin data release by mid 2012, and there is growing interest in new business models such as Callcredit’s Noddle. Inside large organisations, innovation units are beginning to ‘grock’ the opportunities presented by midata and the opportunity to provide new types of information service to customers.
  • Changing the way organisations manage customer data may be a long journey for some. There may not be a quick and easy fix even if the potential value for consumers and businesses is considerable. There’s both push and pull. As one delegate put it, “if you continue to treat your data tomorrow the same way that you do today you will no longer be trusted and will no long exist”.
  • Businesses must develop privacy management as a core competency; it’s now an issue that affects competitive advantage. The idea of an organisation creating one, single ‘privacy policy’ that treats all customers as the same is no longer an option because every individual is different. Each one of us is different when it comes to what information we feel comfortable sharing with who, for what purposes and in what contexts. As one delegate said: “privacy is a private matter” and organisations need to learn how to accommodate this.
  • Building the right governance and trust framework is critical to ensure consumers are protected. This will help to reassure people and encourage them to realise the value of their data and to engage with new personal data services.
  • New technologies are enabling the market changes. The emergence of the smart phone is key.

A few of the issues and questions raised were as follows.

  • How do we value personal data? What is the value to the individual? And to the business?  Are these values completely different?
  • How to help both sides gain more value from data, in a way that doesn’t involve treading on each other’s toes?
  • How to instigate a new information sharing strategy?
  • What new business models are enabled by personal data?
  • What is the impact on the business of increased information sharing? What are the tensions in terms of security and trust?
  • What is the common language that will enable us all to talk about different types of data and data use effectively? How to explain these issues in ways individuals quickly understand?
  • What is the social effect of information sharing? What are the new possibilities created through social action and collaboration?

It was a really stimulating – and exhausting – couple of days. We look forward to working more closely with the MesInfos participants in the coming months.

To read more about the MesInfos programme click here.