In search of the triple win

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Communications Sector, IBM Analytics

By now you have, no doubt, read countless New Year’s big data prediction posts. I’m sure many of them gave you a well-informed look ahead to this year’s applications of advanced analytics and cognitive computing to help companies acquire, grow and retain customers.

I’d like to make a prediction related to data and analytics, but I won’t stake my reputation on when it will actually happen. In fact, for all I know, it might already be secretly in development at some super-clever startup full of people that are far better funded than me.

I believe that my idea calls out something consumers want when it comes to their data. It’s an “ask not what my data can do for your company but what I can do with my data” type of thing. 

Maybe my idea has no merit. Perhaps privacy rules and regulations would render it impossible. Perhaps it’s utter nonsense. Perhaps.

In the meantime, hear me out.

Consumer Controlled Portable Profile

The idea I have is centered on a data as a service (DaaS) plan I’ll refer to as the Consumer Controlled Portable Profile (although I suppose CCPP would be a terrible acronym so I’ll need a better name, but I digress). I first started to explore this concept during an interview I participated in for an article that was published by SNL-Financial News in December 2013.

To explain this potential market, let’s start by considering that when I use a streaming content service like Pandora or Netflix it takes a while for that system to get to know my tastes and preferences so that it can accurately make recommendations and, ultimately, target relevant ads. I call this the Like & Click Tipping Point, meaning the point at which I like more than I dislike and I actually start clicking ads instead of totally ignoring or, even worse, skipping them altogether. Now, if I suddenly decide to go watch videos on a different on-demand service, such as Amazon Prime, or listen to music on a different streaming service, such as Spotify, I have to essentially go back to the beginning of that “getting to know me” learning curve. Sure, they can tell some things about me from the moment I arrive, but not nearly as much as, say, Pandora might know about me after a year of daily interaction with their system.

And that, dear readers, is the heart of the matter. It’s extremely difficult to share my virtual self in a way that would improve my digital experience.

Win-win-win scenario

If, however, I could take my digital profile and easily transfer it from service to service, I think that would open up the door for a whole range of interesting possibilities. Obviously this is easier said than done, but I’m asking you to imagine what it would be like if Amazon instantly knew everything about me that Netflix knows. Sounds pretty good for me and for Amazon, but I know what you’re thinking: “What about Netflix?” How would they benefit from me taking what they know and showing it to someone else? You know the old saying: “There’s always room for revenue sharing!” Perhaps Netflix gets a small percentage of whatever related products, streaming video rentals or subscriptions I purchase on Amazon. If I’m using a premium service, like Amazon Prime, that gives me instant access to tens of thousands of titles at no additional cost beyond the annual membership fee, perhaps Netflix could take a piece of any incremental ad sales that are based on my newly self-enhanced digital profile.

Now we’ve gone from a win-win scenario for individual companies and their specific consumers, to a win-win-win scenario where the currency of relevance is cascaded downstream from company A, to consumer, to company B and beyond. 

Digital Profile Exchange

Let’s take this one step further. Imagine Digital Profile Exchanges where consumers could sell or trade their own data as opposed to someone else selling it on their behalf.  Maybe there’s a social component to apply where I could merge my digital profile with my friends' profiles so we can share each other’s preferences in new and exciting ways, and then partner to earn more benefits. We could even consider Consumer Data Management Platforms that show us how, when and where we can reap the rewards of what we already know about ourselves, and what we can learn by stretching our digital wings to explore the Internet of Things. The stronger and more detailed your digital profile becomes, the more benefits you can access. It’s like Foursquare, but instead of earning badges you earn relevance, and value. The possibilities are limitless!

OK, let’s get back to reality.

I acknowledge that this idea is most likely utter nonsense. That’s fine. The truth is that when it comes to big data I want to get us all thinking about the art of the possible, which often starts out looking impossible. We need to think big, but start small. Dare I say we need to think outside the box?

In short, we need to imagine it, realize it and trust it. That’s the promise of a world in which we infuse analytics everywhere.

What crazy big data idea have you had lately? Tell me in the comments, or find me on Twitter so we can chat this over further.