Garden centers and banks, not yet a success

retailplants1One of the great advantages of exponential growth of IT and memory, is the ability to capture transactions, analyse them and make them of value. As one of my colleagues at Capgemini always says: it’s the large portion of small data that makes up the interesting big data.

This gives opportunity to drive a lot of new opportunities and the ability for companies to reconsider their business models. If you are sitting on a lot of data, how can you make that of value. Do you only use it to create extra value and services around your products (think of the ability to track your ordered goods, wherever they are in the world), create value by up- and cross sell your products (think of product recommendation used by Amazon) or really make money by leveraging your data for others to drive value from.

The last one is the most controversial, but in essence a very interesting one. Jaron Lanier however points out some concerns. He raises the questions whether the economic systems are properly equipped to deal with situations where people make money of data from others, whilst the originators from the data are not being compensated for it. This creates a disbalance in the accounts. Question is how people are going to deal with it. Are we going to accept this fact by short term gains (and then perhaps suffer on the long term) or are we going to protest.

We had a great example in the Netherlands with the Dutch ING bank. They wanted to run a pilot (with explicit approval from customers, but this fact was not really highlighted by the dear members of the press) to sell the meta data of their customers to companies in order for these companies to specifically target the pilot customers with campaigns. They gave the following example: if they see you always spent a lot of money in spring at garden centers, they can the garden center can give you a specific discount.

Interesting part was that the bank presented this as an extra service to help customers in tough economic times by allowing specific target campaigns (and thereby) discounts to be offered to their customers. While for everybody it was clear that it was a way of making money by selling the data to third parties. If this could lead to lower interest rates, then it becomes of value, but the bank did not address this point of the equation.

There was so much turmoil in the Netherlands (where trust in banks is still at a low point) that the ING bank decided to stop this initiative.

Question for me is whether this will remain turmoil if we have had hundreds of these examples. Will people get use to it and is it because it was a bank that the protest was so big.

Very interesting times to see what will happen and how we will deal with the feeling of privacy and our human behaviour towards it.



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