Personal data is the new oil!

29.01.12 10:26 PM By S.Swaminathan

The world economic forum and many futurists believe personal data is the new asset class that will emerge as a competitive advantage for many marketers. It is important that marketers start using this data  intelligently, judiciously and in a manner that benefits and engages the customer. Else, this is one area that can have a severe backlash from customers just like the occupy the wall street episode.

Personal data may be the new oil but refining and using it sparingly with relevance is becoming a very important issue for marketers to focus and address.

Who is the owner of our personal data?

However,  there is an emerging debate around the ownership of personal data as digital outposts & sites are gathering data about customers like never before. Google recently released a new privacy policy last week which  redefines how this data will be used across all Google properties that we as their customers have an account. The new Google privacy policy reads " We may use the name you provide for your Google Profile across all of the services we offer that require a Google Account.....We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads...."

Clearly, the challenge that is becoming a key part of the debate is who is the owner of this personal data  and what of it can be used and by whom.

My View

I personally believe customers should be given control of their data. Customers must give permission about which of this data can be used basis their interests and lifestyle needs to companies, advertisers and marketers. And thereby brands can deliver value to these customers.

Imagine personal data lockers being available which customers can own for a fee(much like the demat of company shares that have happened over years across different countries & markets). There will be several central agencies that hold this data and provide access to customers  - with a front-end which provides flexibility to give permissions to customers to release this data for commercial purposes. If the past few decades were the era of credit bureaus, the coming decades are the era of data bureaus.

Imagine a customer wanting to buy a car ticks the check-box on the need or expresses the need to be a part of a community of interest.Many marketers and companies then vie to build a dialog and a conversation with the customer - not spam her with emails, irrelevant ads and messages on mobiles. All the searches that customer does then become available for relevant ads to be shown to her online. Then, the sales & marketing teams of different marketers & products unlock a new engagement platform to woo this customer.

The customer experience is therefore refined, relevant and customized like never before using the data that is in control in the hands of the customer. 

Imagine the power of this data. Imagine its efficiency. Imagine its effectivness. If personal data has to remain as the new oil, the control & flexibility must be in the hands of the customer.

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