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  • Writer's pictureHugo Pinto

Personal Data: Are we imposing the transformation on the consumers instead of taking it in ourselves

The User-centric economy is here. Businesses change and adapt to consumers’ new needs and expectations. Computational capacity has increased exponentially (more than 300.000x), and the cost of storage has been driven down to the point at which if we compare it with the automotive industry, we’d be able to buy a Rolls-Royce for £0.1.

Original image and post by Bryan Kramer

Recently, there have been talks about H2H – Human 2 Human – instead of B2B and B2C, and that does not happen by chance. The complexity of certain businesses and the pervasiveness of their businesses allow them to switch seamlessly from a B2B to a B2C context, and the users switch between citizen, client and business role.

Example: If you manage your social media with Hootsuite, you have the possibility to use one interface to manage personal accounts, professional accounts and event your presence in communities. You expect as a user that it satisfies ALL the needs for any of the purposes, and are constantly changing your own role as a user of that service.

Personal data is in the heart of a very traumatic change process, and I believe businesses sometimes forget that if the rampant evolution is already overwhelming for professionals, imagine how non-digital natives will react if you try to teach them the difference between pseudonymised data and personal data. And even worse when you throw hadoop infrastructure schematics at them and try running them through a technical example.

Data is not the end for users (whatever hat they have on), so why not focus on the end result, and understand where a more thorough explanation is required, adding that same explanation where it’s relevant?

Google do this (even too) well, asking you for location data, when you attempt to use a service that requires that data. Whenever they give you something for free, they take something in return. Don’t be mistaken; when you aren’t buying anything, you’re the product!

When Ford democratised the automotive industry, did he give classes to his clients on how the breaking system worked?

The car serves a purpose: getting from A to B, quickly, safely and repeatedly. There’s no need to explain how Power Steering works – it exists to make steering easier, and younger generations (which will be half the workforce in 10 years) don’t really want to know the how (of course there are exceptions).

And if they do need to control the data interactions, they want it in a language they understand: an App, a simple and user-friendly dashboard or even a tailored service, that needs your personal data.

Brands and corporates have to take on the real challenge: translate these amazing benefits that the digitally connected and data-driven economy can deliver, in a language all key stakeholders can understand, and taking the H2H in to consideration on all levels.

There is so much to gain from this for everyone. Yesterday, at the Personal Information Economy, organised by CTRL-SHFT in London, there were very clear signals that might help us understand this phenomena. I’m sharing a couple of them below.

  1. Colin Strong, Managing Director at GfK NOP Business & Technology, presented a very interesting position, where he stated that there is an “uncanny valley” once users start feeling you know too much about them – and that’s when the creepiness alarm goes off, and your users “defect”. Colin also mentioned an interesting opportunity: if you focus on the value exchange, and make sure it’s worthy for your clients, it prevents you from falling in to that valley. BTW, this is now called Strong’s Law.

  2. Laurence John, CEO at CTRLio, referred to a very interesting opportunity. As trust increases, and media works with the consumer instead of working them, you will open new industries, such as the transport sector, whose purpose is to take people from A to B. What if in the future, just before you buy a train ticket, you get an ad on your app, that lets you know you can carpool with a friend that is 5 minutes away, and save the money form the trip, the environment, and actually putting you in touch?

Now does anyone at this stage see all citizens being data experts, who know T&Cs of the services they use by heart, and understand the technical entrails of these ecosystem’s beasts?

And the final question, what can businesses, experts and governments do to simplify all of this transformational process to the bare essentials: the purpose?

I look forward to hearing your opinions, either here, on Linkedin or on twitter.

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