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CIOs, CXOs and the effects of the rise of volunteered personal information

Posted on: Saturday 25th of July 2009

John Suffolk, the UK government CIO, has started a blog and wonders about the future of the IT industry. He foresees big changes – cloud computing, software as a service and greener IT with fewer data centres. But what about the rise of volunteered personal information? I added this comment:

Dear John – Great to see you blogging – I wish this every success.

I wonder if we should also take into account the continuing rise of the individual as data manager and logical point of integration, and its effect on value, on personalised services and the possibility of “lean” public services.

I feel (as I think you know) it has always been a shortcoming to think simply in terms of an IT industry of suppliers and IT professionals when the only way to make sense of public services is formally to design them around the individual, and to work as far as possible with a process of co-creation. This is the “Ideal Government” agenda I tentatively presented to your predecessor Ian Watmore – see

The person-centric model of personal data management will add immense value and utility to the organisation-centric model you describe. As the film UsNow hunts [shd read: hints] , this will be of immense importance to government. See eg the moves by the Obama administration towards user-centric IDs for sign-on to government services –

Building on Harvard thinking, and with help from Craig Burton & Doc Searls (he of the Cluetrain Manifesto) we’ve done a lot of thinking [shd read: hard work] about the rise of volunteered personal information – see eg

Ten years out, the rise of vounteered personal information creates the new value of ten Googles today, and provides the basis for a user-driven “just in time” economy including in public services.

Now, that won’t cut the IT bill (as some commentators are wishfully thinking). But its one of the few credible bases I can think of for cutting the real cost of public services by the sort of amounts we need. It would achieve this mainly by aligning supply and demand to eliminate waste on a colossal scale.

IT makes this possible. But only when the person-centric model of personal data management joins and works with the tradional organisation-centric model.

CIOs have to look into the future, and are more likely to be at ease wth contempory IT than other CXOs. That makes them most likely, I suppose, to be the first ot understand the role of the person-centric model for organisations’ future. But the effects cut across all disciplines. When the CIO changes corpoate systems to embrace the person-centric model, the opportunities and threats lie on other CXO’s P&Ls. Will CIOs take this case to their colleagues? How? What support and evidence will they need? Perhaps John will tell us.