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Data is the future⦠right?

Generation Y are the consumers of the future and they’re not scared of technology. I see the level of value that some of the younger ones place on their personal data being little more than the value they place on pizza and general consumables. They are prepared to share their innermost feelings on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram, they Snapchat images (some of which they may live to regret) and give away their preferences in a value exchange which seems to be out of kilter. The pressure to conform, share and be connected seems to grow exponentially year on year.

And yet the pressure to stop companies from using this data for marketing purposes continues to gather pace. This seems to be at odds with consumer behaviour and their willingness to share everything in exchange for a better experience online and offline.

I know from the clients we have, there is a massive desire to predict behaviour across a number of spectrums and understand who this “invisible customer” is. Without the ability to capture certain key data in real time around identity, shopping habits, likes, preferences, identity and credit risk as a basic minimum, we are in danger of ruining the customer experience and losing trust – ironically by not being able to collect enough data!

I recently read an article from Forbes in the US (where privacy laws are constantly being debated as a key issue for them to wrestle with) around a world without data and how this would affect the individual experience. While the majority of the analysis was simple in it content, the context was interesting and I feel compelled to share this with you.

Here is some of the commentary from this article which made me even more excited about the power of data should common sense prevail:

1. Viewing habits
So LG Electronics snooped on their customers’ viewing data. Big deal. There are a zillion shows on TV and most of them are pretty bad. I do not want to waste my limited time watching Duck Dynasty. I prefer to get suggestions. That’s why I keep renewing my TIVO service every year. The more they know about me the better viewing experience I have. So you can snoop on my viewing habits. It’s fine.

2. Targeted ads
I hate those ads where people are buying new Lexus’ for their family members as Christmas gifts. Who does this? Not me. And probably not 99.99% of the rest of the country. So please don’t show me that ad. Find out what you want about me and only show me ads for stuff that I’m really interested in. Like beer. And cuddly stuffed animals (oops…maybe that was a little too private). And if you’re going to put on a car ad keep it at the Honda level, OK?

3. Advice and suggestions
I love it when I buy a book from Amazon and they suggest other books like it. I love it when I plan a trip to Chicago and Expedia emails me suggestions for places to eat. Here’s my social security number – just give me more suggestions like that. Like my TV viewing, my purchasing patterns can also be predicted. And I could always use more help there.

4. More productivity
Many people are concerned when their internet browser asks if you’d like to “save” your credit card info that you just entered so that it can be used in the future. God only knows where that information is being “saved.” But I don’t care about that either. When I buy stuff online, which I do frequently, I want the process to be as quick and painless as possible. And please don’t give me that story about how insecure my credit card info is – wasn’t that you who blindly gave your credit card to that heroin-addict-waiter on Saturday night after your meal? Ever wonder why he took so long coming back with the receipt?

5. Security against our enemies
Yes, the NSA is snooping. Yes, they have access to millions of emails, phone records and text messages. Go ahead NSA, I dare you to read mine. You’ll be just as bored as you are reading this blog right now. But if you need that data in order to root out potential terrorists in this age of big data then you have my permission.

6. Potential saving of my life
President Obama made electronic health records a priority of his administration just a few years ago and the growth of this technology has been explosive. Now pretty much any doctor in the country with a half-baked reason can find out about that gross wart you have on the inside of your left thigh. But the upside: instantaneous medical attention based on the most up to date data if there’s ever an emergency and wherever you are.

7. Growth for my own business
As Chris Lynch, a venture capital investor in big data technologies describes it, the future of business is bright when more big data is available: “How about mapping your point of sale data to weather data so you can determine how many staff you need in your store on a sunny day?” he said to me. “How about anticipating your supply chain needs based on your customer demand next Autumn? It’s not about the data inside your company. It’s about the data you can access about your customers outside.”

8. New friends
The more I share on social media, the more people can find me. Of course this has its downsides. But I’ve been able to connect with old friends from high school and make new friends (and get new customers) because of our shared interests, both personal and professional.

9. Faster travel
Ever had the delicious experience of skirting the lines of screaming kids at the Orlando International Airport because you’re eligible to go through TSA Pre-check? . And it’ll make you want to share any information about yourself with the government just to repeat the experience. Because I travel to the UK a few times a year I’m signing up for the Global Entry service too. We are talking about hours and hours saved in exchange for, at least in my case, meaningless data.

10. Easier payment
I no longer carry cash. And soon I expect I will no longer be carrying credit cards either. With advances made by companies like PayPal, Apple, Square and others my restaurant and retail experience will be quicker and easier because I will be able to pay with a nod to the cashier or a quick fingerprint as I walk out the door. More time saved. More business (and marketing info) for the business owner. It’s a win-win.

So take my data. It’s fine. And it’s really not that interesting. I realize that even if I opt-in (which should always be required) it’s still not entirely secure or private. I’ll take the risk. The benefits are just too significant to ignore.

Courtesy of Gene Marks – Contributor Forbes Online

By DMA guest blogger Chris McDonald, Managing Director, Callcredit Marketing Solutions

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