OPINION10 August 2016

Exchanging values

Data analytics Innovations Opinion Technology

The Internet of Me – where consumers can offer access to their personal data in exchange for cash, gifts or information – could change the face of data gathering as we know it, says Cint’s Richard Thornton.

Man looking at wearable digital watch

The buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT) is also now joined by an appetite for the Internet of Me (IoM) – a concept that is gathering pace and has the potential to reshape how brands engage with consumers.

What does this mean for the research and insights industry, and what challenges and opportunities will it bring? IoM – a value-exchange based concept allowing consumers to give permission for access to their data in return for something such as money, gifts or information – is revolutionising the insights business and will change the face of data collection as we know it.

Driven by the explosion of the IoT and the need to create a trust-driven data economy with the consumer at its heart, IoM will help customers in aiding marketers with more relevant information, which in turn will help consumers get what they want.

The customer has the option to allow one-time or repeated access – keeping full control over the process. It’s a reciprocal transaction: a true win-win for both sides. The likelihood is that consumers will embrace such developments; being able to control the external information that is shared about them will be appealing, and that’s before any potential reward is thrown into the mix.

It also comes at a time when consumers are generally becoming more aware of the value of their personal data and how companies are using this data to create products, services, but ultimately drive revenues and profit. And of course it’s a dream come true for marketers and a major opportunity to gain deeper insight when demand for faster insights has led to a debate around ensuring quality touchpoints with consumers and interacting with them on their terms, at their convenience.

Value-exchange technology company digi.me is one of the start-ups at the forefront of the IoM revolution, and having recently secured a £4.2 million funding boost to accelerate its development, the concept will soon be more widely available to consumers. For market research players, the key will be to understand, keep track of, and adapt with the changing dynamic. IoM will challenge research and insights collection as getting consumers to opt in, participate and engage with brands to provide user experience and opinion has, and will continue to, become increasingly more difficult. Mobile becomes key.

In fact, cross-device becomes a pre-requisite for any consumer insights strategy, as do affinity based models built on trust, exchanges and fair compensation. Market research firms that are based around a value-exchange concept can capitalise by collaborating with IoM focused firms. They can then work together to extend their offering to clients of IoM firms, particularly as some appear to be building communities off the data for insights.

IoM is about consumer power and them taking back control and ownership of their data. The world is being driven by consumer behaviour today, both in B2B and B2C. Their habits are changing along with their savviness around their own digital profile increasing. They want to be engaged in their preferred time, on their preferred device, but on a value-exchange basis – exchanging data, but only for rewards. As IoT grows, more data will potentially be collected, but only if the consumer allows it to be.

To realise the full potential of IoT, IoM should be tapped into and leveraged, but respected. IoM focused firms and those in market research that understand this changing dynamic and address it, will emerge the winners.

Richard Thornton is deputy CEO of Cint