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Demos report: The Data Dialogue

Posted on: Tuesday 25th of September 2012

Think tank Demos has published an important report, The Data Dialogue, which concludes that, “none of the potential gains of the information revolution can be realised unless people are at the heart of any new settlement”. It highlights the agenda shift that needs to happen if businesses are to capitalise on the new wave of innovation and opportunities which we predict can be created when information becomes a tool in the hands of the individual.

Demos state, “Data and information sovereignty is the next big consumer issue. The Populus survey suggests that people share an increasing amount of information about themselves – and expect to share even more in the future. However, there is a crisis of confidence: the public is uncomfortable about the way personal information and behavioural data are collected by government and commercial companies. There is a danger that this loss of confidence will lead to people sharing less information and data, which would have detrimental results for individuals, companies and the economy. The solution is to ensure individuals have more control over what, when and how they share information.”

They continue, “Companies and organisations that take information sharing concerns seriously will be rewarded by consumers.” According to Demos those businesses that give consumers ‘informed choice’ and ‘meaningful options’ – which go beyond the basic options of opt-in or opt-out – and are open and transparent about information exchange avoiding blanket solutions, stand the gain the most. These businesses will, “benefit from greater consumer loyalty – and reap an economic reward, too, as consumers share more.”

Eighteen months ago we conduced some research tracking the control shift in customer attitudes. We’re glad this research was used as a reference and benchmark by Demos. What’s clear is that individuals still feel very strongly that the balance of power between themselves and organisations is tilted too much in favour of the organisation. However, our hypothesis is that as the control shift unfolds over the next few years this will change as new technologies and services such as Personal Data Stores empower people with more control over their own data. The high ground – the goal to go for – is where more empowered consumers justifiably feel confident that they can share their data with organisations so that the full value of the data is realised. The challenge is to work through the details of how this can work in practice.