Our behavior online, and even offline, as the Internet of Things becomes a reality, generates huge volumes of data. Huge! But whose data is it exactly? You might produce it, but who owns it? Who profits from it? Who currently stands the most to gain from it? I’ll give you a clue — it’s not you!
It’s true that we’ve started to unlock some of the potential value that is contained within big data. It’s also true that we, the consumers, benefit from getting better recommendations, discounts on other products we might like and deals customized to our preferences.
But this is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the value of your data to an enterprise today or in the near future.
Right now, in this first wave of what we at Gartner call the new digital industrial economy, we are giving this hugely valuable data away for very little in return. Discounts, offers, recommendations, deals.
But all this could change.
In the second wave of the new digital industrial economy, consumers will shift from being largely ignorant of their data’s value to being highly intelligent, protective and selective about how they collect and manage it.
In this second wave, consumers will be enabled and empowered to own and thereby monetize their own data, effectively wrestling back the control and driving up the value equation for themselves.
I know this represents a polar shift from where we are today — from companies aggregating and owning data to consumers owning and managing their own data and most importantly monetizing their data. And as is the case in most major changes, the reality will probably lie somewhere in the middle.
Regardless, the impact on the technology industry will be profound. It probably won’t be another Google or Amazon or Microsoft that comes along to challenge established leadership positions. It won’t be a bigger, better, fresher, newer version of these successful companies. Leaders in the new digital industrial economy will most likely be an organization, or even more likely somebody, completely different. When I say somebody, I actually mean us. That’s you and me, multiplied by a couple of billion individuals.
Consumers will no longer be satisfied with trading their highly complex personal data for simple discounts. They will find ways to wrestle back ownership, and thereby control, of their own data. Their personal big data. They will have software that enables them to monetize their data.
The result? Consumers will have the power to sell, exchange or barter their data in return for products and services of equal worth. With this change, we will see the start of the next wave in the new digital industrial economy; A wave of change that will means everyone becomes a technology company.
We are conducting research into this field today to find answers to some fundamental questions. What or who will act as a catalyst for this change? How will consumers manage their data? How will the market or exchange operate to provide a platform for information to flow between the consumer and the provider? What new opportunities will exist for consumers, brokers, technology providers and industries of all types? And how will this shift impact established industries, providers and consumer behavior?
We look forward to this conversation continuing for some time to come, and I’m interested in your point of view. Do you already see demand for this shift? Do you see early examples of the transition of ownership taking place? Or do you think data will continue to be owned by the enterprise and that the current status-quo is too powerful to be threatened? I look forward to your comments.
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