I was talking with a client the other day who had just run a panel discussion about wearables, big data and retail. Years ago at Nike, I had tried to get the NBA to let us have the statistical data for the players. I was a bit naïve and the NBA turned me down. They owned the league where the athletic performance had taken place, they not the athletes, owned the data was their argument. (I had envisioned a way that consumers could compare their basketball stats with the players.) It was something that irked me but they had a point, if the league didn’t exist there wouldn’t be any performance data.
So what does that have to do with consumers and retail? Well, think about how much data retailers are collecting on you when you shop in any of their channels. Should you, the consumer, “own” your shopping data and be able to chose to allow retailer to use it to help sell you. Should they pay you to use your data? For that matter does Experian “own” your data? When consumers signed away the rights to their financial data it was a different computational era. We had a different understanding about just how personal data could become.
Having spent some time in Europe, where there is much more emphasis on personal privacy—including transaction data. Permission must be explicitly asked for and given (not that fine-print language that we Americans see all the time and ignore).
So as big data becomes big personal data, Ashley Madison aside, perhaps it’s time to start thinking more closely about just who or what business should “own” your digital persona.
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