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OPINION1 March 2018

This time it’s personal

Big Data Europe Finance GDPR News Privacy

At the recent IIex conference in Amsterdam, Futurice’s Tuomas Syrjänen looked at the rise of the personal data economy and what it means for brands.

'Meta me’ and ‘Exo Human’ are just two of the names given to the cloud of personal data that accompanies consumers’ every digital move. The growing value and volume of personal data has led The World Economic Forum to term it 'the new asset class'.

The rise of the personal data economy is about the opportunities for consumers and brands that could result from monetising this personal data.

Until recently, consumers’ say in what happens to their personal data has been passive and largely unrewarded. Brands like Google and Facebook are in the middle of massive data flows about consumers’ movements, location and decisions: both are involved in harvesting and summarising data and developing insights which can  be packaged and sold. 

Empowered by GDPR, the courts and the media, consumers are demanding much greater visibility, accountability and control over what happens to their personal data. Just last week a Belgian court ordered Facebook to stop tracking users as they browse the internet or face fines of up to 100 million euros.

Once GDPR has bedded in, the personal data economy could enable brands to work with consumers and their data on a much more equal, transparent and creative basis. Here are four ambition levels which companies could aspire to:

1. A more tailored approach to marketing

At a basic level, the personal data economy is likely to prompt brands to change how they  market to consumers because it is already delivering much greater visibility into individual’s use of phones/banks etc. This could signal the end of grandiose claims like ‘Bank Y – For All Your Banking Needs’ which are hard to validate.

We are seeing a growth in personalised price comparison services such as Billmonitor which analyses consumers’ actual mobile phone use to recommend the correct tariff/bundle. This consumer champion trend could emerge in the energy sector with smart thermostats like Nest and Hive opening up the possibility of personalised pricing for energy use.

2. Use consumers’ personal data to create more engaging services

The next ambition level is consumers authorising the sharing of their personal data more widely, to create enhanced services  This is the hope of the new PSD2 Open Banking regulation which allows FSA-approved start-ups to access bank account holders’ data (with their permission) using standard, secure APIs. New entrants such as Monzo are already using gamification and a lighter touch to put the fun into finance.

Ethics/legislation permitting, imagine if the data sharing in financial services could be extended to enable unusual partnerships between brands across sectors. In this scenario, the consumer could allow their Fitbit to share their fitness data with their online supermarket and personal finance apps, to obtain a personalised shopping list designed to match both their fitness and spending goals.

3. An opportunity for new ventures – such as a data banks

The third ambition level for the personal data economy is new ventures. What if the  value of personal data provided banks with new ways of managing not just consumers’ financial assets, but their data assets too? What if a consumer’s browsing history or their aggregated purchased history were assets? Could their entire data footprint be managed in a comparable way to their money?

4. Redefine which business brands are in

At the highest ambition level, the personal data economy will allow businesses to redefine which sectors they are in.

We believe that data driven advisory services are a potential growth area within the personal data economy. With digitalisation ushering in the unbundling of banks/insurance/utilities and telephony, consumers face a dizzying array of start-ups all offering to solve part of the problem.

This creates a gap in the market for trusted advisory brands able to cut through the noise, and offer consumers individually curated solutions that are precisely tailored to their personal needs.

The personal data economy presents a wealth of opportunities for brands prepared to work with consumers and prototype their way towards developing insightful products and services that add value in a much more personalised way than ever before.