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December 2010
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February 2011

Increasingly, will customers take control of their own data?

With Social Web taking shape over the last couple of years( over 500 million customers are socially networked) and showing signs of aggressive growth, customer profiles are increasingly getting accessible and I see more and more misuse of the same.

The recent one that I have experienced is in Linked-in where I get almost one request a day to join one forum or the other. The forum effectively is a method to network and conduct business without my permission. This is the starting instance of professional misuse of the network. I see this as an evolved spam in the garb networking with your peers in the industry. Similarly in the B2C arena, with google, facebook and  soon to announce google's groupon like services, our data - both demographic and behavioral, is  increasingly getting threatened to be misused. Take another services company Spokeo, they claim to be #1 reverse email company to find email addresses of customers and they are even the first ones to link your physical address with your email address! Days are not far-off when all your information will be out on the web!

In the traditional offline world, there were regulations that were brought-in like DNC lists for telecalling, Unsubscribe for email marketing etc. but these are archiac in the online social world. How do we ensure that content providers and service providers - who trade our data for advertising revenue be controlled? This are exactly the questions customers are being besieged with as there is a huge information overload which can lead to blindspots for marketing programs. 

This is where new service providers seem to be mushrooming. For example - Personal.com is an interesting model where their proposition is:

  1. Where customers set the rules to share their data, not companies!
  2. It helps customers manage their identify across various services that they access to.
  3. Instant personalization of content, offers etc. basis their profiles and information
  4. Advertisers compensate customers for having a dialog with them!

I believe the day is not far-off when customers will clamour for control of their data and seek not just commercial returns as it is widely touted but even advice, mentoring, support, customer care/service that they can get for the information they share will evolve.